Guardian of Equestria

by Armyidiot

First published

When Heaross, Guardian of Battleon, finds himself teleported to a colorful world full of adorable ponies, he makes an unbreakable promise to protect them, especially a certain newly ascended alicorn. Let's hope he doesn't kill everyone first, though.

Twilight Sparkle's ascension into being an alicorn released a massive amount of magic. Most of it was released into Equestria, but some parts of time and space were also affected by it. Most magic fed into worlds already had the strange essence, or was simply explained out of existence. Only in a few places set around the time stream did the magic coalesce into anomalies, creating strange happenings, almost entirely unexplainable. In one long distanced world, this magic formed into a portal. What happens when a certain well adventured adventurer wanders in? Come with me, and you shall see an entire world changed by just one individual.

The game this fic is based on is called Adventure Quest, and you find it at by Artix Entertainment. I own nothing besides my own character Heaross.

I highly recommend everyone try out the game, even if it is rather old. It's updated every week, and the potential it has is amazing! I do break canon a decent bit for story purposes, but the story the game has is amazing and can last you several days, especially the Devourer Saga. This game is a prime example of what a turn based rpg can be, and it is one of my favorite games of all time.

Prologue: Warlic's Blunder

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Why is it always me that has to do the lazy people's work around here? Why isn't Warlic himself doing this?

Heaross, Legendary Adventurer by trade, Guardian of Battleon, home of Adventurers, and personal pack mule to everyone who needs something arbitrary or time wasting done. He truly was getting sick of everyone's crap. Wearing his standard Ultra Guardian Armor, he trekked through the forest close to Battleon, wary of monsters, though with the close proximity to the town of adventurers, it would be surprising if there were any. The fresh meat always coming into the town, thinking they were hot stuff, normally kept the surrounding woods clear of most monsters, save the stray highly trained drakel or necromancer coming to take over town again.

Warlic had gotten his time this day, informing him of a temporal anomaly taking place near the woods of Battleon. Fearing magic outlash, he had sent Heaross in his stead, deciding to stay in his shop and monitor things without fear of magical interference. Being well experienced in temporal events, the warrior himself knew the side effects of leaving a rift unsettled. If Warlic was wary of its power, then it had to be big.

Aside from the stray BURP or Zard, Heaross met little resistance on the path to the strange magical flux. Soon enough, he came across the temporal anomaly, pure, unfettered magic lashing out against the surrounding area. Yeah, Warlic definitely had reason to fear something this powerful...

Using the magical spell Warlic had cast on him, Heaross sent out a thought to establish communications so he could report back to Warlic what he was seeing. "Testing, 1 2 3, testing, Warlic can you hear me?"

"I can hear you, Heaross. Are you at the anomaly?"

"Yeah I am. This thing is massive, Warlic, definitely bigger than anything we've seen before. Remember when the Devourer caused that rift?"

"How could I not? It was the size of my shop."

"Think that, but with a lot brighter colors, and about twice the size."

"By the elements... How are you not freaking out? Don't you normally hate rifts?"

"I'm... not entirely sure, Warlic. I'm just feeling much calmer than I think I would. Not quite at peace, but definitely at normal non-war times. I'll try running some scans with the spells you gave me. See what I can find out."

"Roger. Report to me if you find out anything surprising or dangerous."

"Got it. Keep monitoring the surrounding area. I don't want to be in the blast range if this thing goes off. "

"Will do, I'll keep a teleportation spell at the ready. Be safe out there Heaross. We haven't dealt with something this big before." With Warlic's warning sounding in his ears, the brave warrior set about casting the monitoring spells the warlock taught him, making sure to keep track of each line of info he was receiving.

...holy shit, that is a massive amount of magic pouring out of this thing. And it's pure mana, too? Better switch to the Overlord set, the magic here could hurt me if it hits. Quickly switching to his more magic (and fire) resistant armor, Heaross continued setting the spells and monitoring what the flux was doing, all with that same sense of calm overriding his normal feelings of curiosity and wariness he normally felt when near such a massive amount of magic.

The primarily melee based fighter was glad he wasn't a mage or the like. He had heard from a couple fellow adventurers that mages could sometimes get overloaded with mana if they were near an unlinked source as large as this. The last thing he needed happening at this point was blowing up from mana overexposure. Even with his magic senses weaker than some other of his friends, he could practically feel the ebb and flow of energy rushing from this thing.

After about 30 minutes of watching the rift and its magic output, Heaross decided he had garnered enough information to report back to base and inform Warlic of his findings. Restarting the Comm Link, as Warlic had named the spell, he called out to the wizard. "Warlic, I've found a lot of stuff in this thing. Some of it is alarming, but mostly its just really weird."

...The hell? He wasn't responding. "Warlic, do you read me? I repeat, this flux is massively different from what we've encountered."

"I can hear you Heaross, I'm just busy reading what it's doing to the surroundings. Come back to base soon, I'm getting some strange messages from my spells."

"Alright Warlic. 2 things you should know now though, is that for one, the flux is spewing out pure mana. Unshaped and undirected. The second thing is that it's more than a simple flux. It's a rip in the continuum. I repeat, it's not of this world. The readings I'm getting are pointing it to way forward than where we are." This would be alarming, were it not the ambient magical calm forced by the portal.

Just as the adventurer was about to leave the area, and try purging the massive amount of mana he had no doubt absorbed during his time there, all of his spells feeding him data started sending off massive warnings, while simultaneously Warlic contacted him, sounding very panicked.


"Warlic, stop yelling in my ears! I'm getting the readings from the spells right now, and it's not looking good! Do you still have that teleport spell ready?"

"I do, but I still recommend you start running! It will take a small moment to get it charged, and the flux will blow the entire forest to pieces!"

"Dammit Warlic! This is why I never like going on any missions for you!" The very brave warrior, now scared shitless, starts running as fast as he can, very quickly escaping the immediate area of the blast, but the forest is a massive maze. Weaving through the trees, trying to find a way back to town would take much longer than he had. He just hoped Warlic could get that teleport spell ready.

"Heaross, I have the spell prepared! Stand still and you'll be directed to my shop!" Following Warlic's orders, Heaross stands stock still, hoping to every deity out there that the portal doesn't blow quite as fast as he was reading. Unfortunately, it appeared he must have especially pissed someone off, because as the teleport spell started taking effect, the portal from earlier blew, taking the surroundings with it.

The way that Warlic had explained his teleport spell was that it took the current form of whoever was being teleported, as well as any followers they may have, and assimilated them into the spell to reform at the chosen location. The window of time is very brief, less than even a tenth of a second, but if timed correctly, an outside influence can change the destination of where the user was being teleported to. While this very rarely occurred in someone's death, there have been instances of being dropped into bottomless pits, spike traps, or, if the rumors were true, once even into a volcano. So, when the blast from the portal made contact with Warlic's teleport spell, the destination of poor Heaross changed dramatically.

Where? Well, dear reader, let's take a look.

A New Princess, A New Visitor

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Heaross finally awoke in a forest, at nighttime, no sign of Warlic around, and with a massive amount of ambient magic floating around. This day was going swimmingly... And then there were the wolves he was now hearing. Yep, this day has just been peachy. Absolutely perfect. Dammit Warlic...

Remembering his Guardian training, Heaross took stock of everything. His body and armor were still entirely intact, nothing changed there besides the slight headache he was now feeling. That was possibly due to the unfiltered mana floating around, but a potion may help. The second thing he checked were his followers. Fortunately, the 2 he had following him were still intact, apparently unharmed, but currently unconscious. Fred and his Mau of Osiris. Fred, his loyal pack mule, always carrying his armor and equipment, was someone that was rarely remembered, unless the situation called for him. The Mau of Osiris was his, for lack of a better term, battle cat. She - yes the Mau was a she - was a Persian breed of cat, hairless yet fierce. The Mau also had a curse on her that she sometimes used for battles to scare his opponents. Heaross thought it looked kind of cool, when not being targeted by it. They were both fine, if maybe a little startled when they woke up. He should probably grab the treats for his cat.

After checking his equipment and items, making sure everything was still there, Heaross looked around where he was, trying to figure out if something wrong had happened with the spell. It was midday when he went to check out the flux, but by the looks of it, it was somewhere past dusk, maybe near midnight. The moon's position told him that yes, it was close to midnight. Looking around further, he started seeing very bright lights coming from somewhere off in the distance, away from the woods. It might be another temporal anomaly, or it could be a mage battle. Neither one of those sounded good right about now. But, if someone was in danger, then his code of Guardianship forced him to protect whoever was in danger. But he couldn't leave Fred and Mau, they could be in danger if left alone. He thought quickly about what he could do.

Wait, he thought, I have that pocket dimension for my pets! I can just put them both there, and get them when they wake up. Quickly opening the controlled portal, he carried both to a bed he had placed there, and laid them upon it. Satisfied they would be safe in there, he closed the portal and set upon the lights, which were a considerable distance closer than he originally thought. As it was, it took him less than a minute to reach it, where the light was also centered in the middle of a rural town, not altogether unlike his hometown of Battleon. Though, instead of humans or the other bipedal races there, he found lightly colored ponies. Some of them were what appeared to be unicorns, while others were pegasi, while some had neither wings nor horn. As the situation went, practically none of the small horses noticed Heaross, currently too busy watching the strange light manifesting. There was one pony who had noticed him though, colored an almost cyan color, who was doing the most adorable squee he had ever heard.

Ignoring whoever it was for the time being, Heaross could see some shapes inside of the ball of magic starting to form. There was a strange 6 pointed star, with some smaller stars being formed around it, and a shape most like the little ponies here, but almost blindingly white. It lowered to the ground and formed entirely into a lavender colored unicorn. The most striking thing about the pony were the sudden wings flared out to the sides of it. A winged unicorn? A horned pegasus? Heaross was unsure what to call the strange creature, but his question was shortly answered by another pony near the lavender one, colored a light orange, who called out to it, "Twilight? Is that you?"

So its name is Twilight? Strange, but he has seen weirder names. Just as he was about to approach, another 5 ponies rushed towards Twilight, one of them being the orange one from earlier. They crowded her, sharing hugs and apparent relief for something. Maybe she had disappeared before Heaross arrived, and was just now reappearing. Finally thinking it an appropriate time, Heaross made his presence known by simply walking towards the group of 6, and handing one of his health potions to Twilight. Needless to say, the following freak out by other 5 was somewhat expected. Giving a tired sigh, Heaross said, "Drink this. You should feel your strength return and your mind cleared. And don't think I'm here for conquest or to hurt anyone. My name is Heaross and I am a Guardian. My first and foremost priority is to make sure any and all beings are safe and in good condition. From the reaction of your dear friends, I'm going to guess the wings are new?"

Twilight seemed very taken aback, yet managed to keep her calm in the presence of this tall, armored guardian, as he called himself. After a moment, she replied, "Umm... yeah the wings are new. My name is Twilight Sparkle, and these are my friends." After noticing the strange bottled liquid, she asked, "What's in this? You said it could heal, but I'm a little unsure. I don't mean any offense, but you did just show up."

"No offense taken, Twilight Sparkle. I'd be wary if some tall stranger just showed up and started talking about protecting people as well. This, Twilight, is a potion. More specifically, a healing potion. It can heal most injuries almost instantly, and give a boost to spent reserves of energy. Counting that one, I have 35 stored for use. Normally for use in a fight, I will give one to another if needs be. Drink it and you'll find yourself at your tip performance in seconds. Drink it slowly, the energy boost is quite substantial."

Taking his word for it, the lavender colored pony takes a small drink of the strange red potion, quickly drinking the small amount. After a moment of looking surprised, she drunk the rest of the potion slower than the first sip. After downing the entire potion, she says to Heaross, "By the Maker, that is hard to swallow! How can you drink 35 of those?"

Heaross gives a hearty chuckle and smiles, replying, "Yeah, the first time is always hard on the mouth. My first one I almost threw up. Drink a few more and you'll find it isn't that bad to drink. Almost like a strong wine." After giving a thoughtful look, he says, "I don't mean to alarm you, but I think your friends over there are terrified of me." A loud hiss was heard from a pink pony, further proving his point.

"Pinkie, I don't think its appropriate for right now to be scared. Heaross seems genuinely concerned for my safety. The same goes for the rest of you." Soon realizing that she hadn't introduced them to Heaross, she spoke, "Heaross, as you can tell, these are my friends."

Pointing to an orange pony with an orange stetson hat on her head, "This is Applejack," pointing to a blue pegasus with a vibrant rainbow mane, "that's Rainbow Dash," pointing to white unicorn with a lustrous purple mane, "there's Rarity," pointing to the pink pony that had hissed at Heaross, "she is Pinkie Pie," and pointing to the last pony, a very shy looking yellow pegasus, "and this is Fluttershy. Normally, they're all good natured and very nice, but I guess the same thing that happened with Zecora is happening again now."


"You know what that means? We are going to be the best of friends, if mine here can get over themselves and not be so rude."

"Just give them time Twilight. I would be willing to bet that my first impressions probably weren't that good." And just to prove his point further, suddenly a great white mass slammed into Heaross knocking him away from Twilight and the others. Quickly flipping himself right, he landed on his feet and prepared for what could be a very long and hard fight. While the blow he received didn't hurt, he couldn't tell what element his new foe was using, so he stuck with the Ultra Guardian Armor, preferring its strong earth, fire and darkness resistances.

"Get away from my ponies, human! I won't let you hurt them!" The new player in the game certainly didn't like him, so he prepared himself for a good fight, steeling his nerves and drawing his sword and shield.

"And just might who you be, ruler? I warn you, I don't want to fight you, but if you force my hand then I will be forced to subdue you," said Heaross, not one ounce of fear showing from his eyes, but rather a conviction of a fight, and the excitement it brings.

"I am Princess Celestia, and I know of what your kind bring. Death, disease, war, just to name a few. And don't start thinking for a moment that I will let you hurt my subjects, for you will have to go through me first!"

Well, this might not end well. I really don't want to kill a princess, and this entire thing seems to be a misunderstanding. If I have to, I'll fight, but I don't think killing the ruler would help me out, so nonlethal take down should suffice. I don't know what she would be using to fight, though I think its a safe bet to wager magic, considering that long horn she has. Let's try for a bit of peace first off though. His internal monologue done, Heaross starts by saying, "Princess Celestia, I think we may have a misunderstanding here. I don't come in the name of my people, or to start some war. My name is Heaross, and I am of the Guardian Order. Our mission to maintain peace and protect those who cannot protect themselves. I was transported here after a teleporting spell was blasted with a high concentration of pure mana, emanating from a temporal flux that I was sent to investigate. I am here at this town because I had noticed a strange light coming from some point here. As it turns out, the strange light coalesced into the form of Twilight Sparkle. I have given her a health potion for any fatigue and wounds she may have sustained while being in whatever realm that she was in. As you can see, she is in good health and bears no ill will towards me nor I her. She has introduced me to her friends and herself, and I see no threat here that requires my services, aside from yourself."

Not quite believing Heaross, but willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, questions Twilight about his words and and truthfulness regarding his actions. After supporting and confirming what she has seen and said, Celestia says to the Guardian, "While I may not trust you or your kind, I will reserve judgement until a later date so as to question whether you are truly trustworthy or not. Don't think though that I will not fight you. If you dare harm my ponies in any way, then I will blast you with the force of the sun itself."

"I thank you for your willingness to not attack me Celestia, though I must warn you as well that attacking me would not end well for you. You may have the power of the sun at your command, but I doubt even someone like you would be able to defeat me. I have faced foes of such strength, that they have destroyed mountains in single blows. You cannot best me."

"We will see about that. For now, I have matters to attend to, like helping dear Twilight Sparkle adjust to becoming an alicorn." Keeping true to her word, Celestia began to speak with Twilight about her wings, and helping her adjust. After a moment, Twilight began to run and jumped high, testing her new wings. Amazingly, she managed to take flight, despite being completely new to it. Sighing, Heaross opened the portal to his pets and called out his Sphinx.

Once she had come out, Heaross closed the portal and gave her instructions to tail Twilight and catch her when she starts to inevitably fall. After pointing out who was Twilight, the sphinx took flight and followed her, who was whooping and cheering for her new wings. After about 3 minutes of sustained flight, quite impressive considering how new she was, she started dipping, her energy drained from using her wings so much. Following Heaross' command, the sphinx caught twilight on her back and gently touched down, allowing the new alicorn to step off, seeming quite tired after flying so long. Coming back to her master, Heaross fed her a fresh rat he found while they were flying and fed it to the sphinx. "Thank you Heaross. I will rest for now, unless you have need of me again."

"Thank you, Sphinx, for catching Twilight. I don't have need of you now, so you may return." Opening the portal, the lion-eagle hybrid creature walked in, preparing for some well deserved rest. Closing the portal, Heaross walked over to Twilight, making sure she wasn't hurt from straining herself so much in the first time flying. Aside from being tired, Twilight was fine, her wings still in good condition, if a bit strained.

Rainbow Dash came to him then and said, "If you're so new here, why are you acting like we're such good friends and trying to protect us?"

"For 2 reasons, Rainbow Dash." the hardened warrior replied, "1 is because of my Guardian Code. I have sworn an oath to protect and care for any beings I see that may need any help, and maintain peace throughout all lands. The second reason is are we not friends? And things like this are what friends do for each other? I mean, I could be entirely wrong and your instead supposed to slap your friends every time you see them, but that doesn't seem like something very friendly to do."

Seeing the smirk and detecting sarcasm just dripping from his voice, Rainbow decided to let the matter drop. Finishing up with making sure Twilight was healthy, he noticed the shy little Fluttershy approaching him, if a bit nervously. With just the most cutest little voice, and almost cowering in fright, she simply asked the big man, "Can I please see your pet again?"

"I swear to god if I ever find a cuter thing than that I will eat my own sword. Yes, Fluttershy, you can. I have a better idea though. Would you like to see all of my pets?" With the most genuine smile, she nodded yes. "Okay then, follow me." Opening the portal to where he stored all of his pets when they weren't helping him fight or keeping him company, he led Fluttershy inside, showing her a world of animals and exotic beasts, tamed and trained. "You may want to stay back for a moment." Stepping back, though with some question, she simply watched as Heaross raised his arms wide, steadied himself, and shouted, "COME GIVE ME A HUG!" Suddenly, the massive wave of animals barreling over him entirely engulfed Heaross, blocking her sight for about 30 seconds. After he had finally come up for air, smiling, he introduced all of them to Fluttershy, and her to them.

Her squeals of enjoyment at seeing so many animals almost gave Heaross a heart attack from adorableness. "Oh my, there are so many! And they're all so cute! I can't hug enough of them!" Despite her attempts at it.

After about 10 minutes of nonstop hugging and praising each of the animals, Heaross decides that she's been here long enough, and that any more would legitimately give him a heart attack. As strong as his potions are, they don't stop heart attacks. "Come on, Fluttershy. Your friends might get worried if you're gone too long. Maybe when we have some time I'll let you come back here." Even after hearing the many groans and complaints about her leaving, Heaross was resolute in the fact that if they were gone any longer, someone might get worried and jump to conclusions.

Opening the portal and promising to his pets and to Fluttershy that she would be able to come back some time, they left the pocket dimension, Fluttershy intent on going immediately to her friends and relating her experiences with the many animals of Heaross' world. The warrior, meanwhile, set about the town, intent on exploring and becoming familiar with his surroundings. He saw many things there, the most notable of which were a large tree holding a Library, a pink candy covered building which he found to be a confectionery shop, and a clothing store with a carousel on the top. This is certainly a world Aria or Robina might enjoy, being the embodiment of every young girl's dream. Warlic would be too fascinated with the magic and all of its properties, while Artix... Heaross was genuinely unsure what Artix would think of this world. He hadn't found any malicious or otherwise evil people here, so he would probably just be bored, wanting something to fight. The wasabi loving paladin always treasured a good fight. That's what made him such a good sparring partner.

...damn, its only been a few hours and I'm already missing Battleon. I really hope Warlic remembers our interdimensional protocol, I don't want to be stuck here any longer than I have to. Maybe I should summon Dunamis and see what he says. I don't even know if I can summon him... The bad part is the same would apply for the Sisters of Mercy... Oh shit, if I can't summon them then I can't summon the Guardian Dragon! Maybe I could still summon Death... Death has said before that all domains are his to collect souls from... That would be the smartest move... Yeah, once I get a chance, I'll summon him and see what he has to say.

Exceedingly annoyed now, Heaross stops, turns around, and calls out to any listening, "I know you're following me. If you have a question, I'm more than happy to answer it, otherwise, leave me alone." After a moment, not entirely satisfied that whoever was tailing him left, Heaross continued on his exploration of the town and its surrounding areas.

...okay who is following me and why? I understand I'm a new site for everyone here, but that doesn't mean its okay to follow me around like some spy. Now very thoroughly perturbed, Heaross stops again, but decides to switch to his Fujin equipment to use the power of winds to ascend high into the air and see who it was that was spying on him. Easily locking onto them, he silently touches down behind them and walks right to their back. "So, who you spying on?"

The very high pitched scream tells him that this is either a girl, or a boy going through puberty. Due to the size of said pony, he goes with girl. "How did you get behind me, and how did you know I was following you?" Yep, that squeaky voice definitely belongs to a girl.

"I'm a Guardian, and I'm a Guardian. The better question here is why were you following me? And who are you?"

Taking a deep breath of air, the girl, despite now being at the mercy of Heaross, says very levelly, "My name is Lyra, and I've been studying humans for a long time. You are a human, right?" After a nod from the Guardian, she continues, "I want to learn more about humans, and how your people work. I thought the best way would be to follow you and learn from your movements and mannerisms."

Taking a deep breath, exhaling into a long, drawn out sigh, inhaling again, Heaross finally speaks, "And you really thought that would work? Little lesson for you, if you are curious about someone or where they're from, it's not considered rude to ask them about it. What is rude is following them around, thinking they won't mind. It's also less effective at learning about them. I'll teach you some things, but later. I have a lot on my mind right now, and it's been a really tiring day. If you'll excuse me now, good night. And if I find you following me again, I won't be as merciful the next time."

Taking his words to heart, Lyra rushed off to parts unknown, probably in fear of what would happen if she stuck around. Finally... God, today has been really exhausting. A potion may help restore my energy, but that doesn't mean that it's better than a good night of sleep... Question though, where the hell am I gonna sleep tonight?

The First Day

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Ooh... Now that is a comfy bed to wake up in... When I get back home, I am totally gonna get one of these mattresses... Having to force himself out of bed, Guardian Heaross performs his normal morning routine, which consists of an extensive workout, sword and axe practice, and checking on his pets and their supplies in the Petverse (Fluttershy came up with the name, and Heaross loved it).

Fred and the Mau had woken up after long enough, and he explained to everyone in the Petverse (he is totally gonna copyright that when he gets home) that due to a magic flux, all of them were now in a different time of existence. Still learning himself, he explained what he could, including the name of the land, Equestria, its inhabitants, and the rules Heaross was setting for each of his pets. Fred was to stay in the Petverse for the time being, until Heaross could make sure of the safety and rules of the land. The same was true for the rest of his pets, but because he also didn't want to scare any of the local ponies by the strange and exotic creatures. As much as he hated to admit it, it was less for the pet's safety and more for the normal inhabitants.

Exiting the portal, Heaross was surprised to find a black and navy blue alicorn mare staring at where he had entered back into the room from. She was comparable to Celestia, but a little shorter and seemed a bit nicer, especially when she said, "My name is Luna. I am sister to Celestia and Princess of the Night. Consider this an official welcome to Equestria."

"Hello, Luna. My name is Heaross, Legendary Adventurer and Guardian at your service. I am glad to find out that being rude to newcomers doesn't run in the family."

Seeming a bit surprised, Luna asked politely, "Rude? Has Celestia done something to give a bad perception of herself?"

"Let's see, jumping to conclusions, threatening me after she had just knocked into me on purpose, and overall a bad temperament regarding me or my kind. Not very good first impressions, if you ask me."

"That sounds strangely unlike my sister. Normally she is kind and welcoming to any who are new."

"If you don't believe me, ask Twilight about it. She saw the entire thing happen, and even supported my story. If not for her, Celestia may be unconscious and locked up."

"Oh really? And why would that be, 'Legendary Adventurer?'"

"Because then I would have been forced to defend myself, and killing the ruling monarch doesn't seem like something that would get me into any good books with people."

"Equestria actually has a diarchy system of ruling. Celestia is one ruler, and I am the other. But I would agree that killing essentially half of the government would be bad. Though I do have doubts you could."

"During Guardian training, one of the requirements to pass was being able to sense magic, the amount currently of, and express knowledge in its use. While there were no requirements stating that you had to use magic in some form, you did have to demonstrate that you could. The amount of magic I am sensing from you currently is about on par with the warlock, Warlic, a good friend of mine and strongest spell caster in the lands. Celestia has a small amount more than you. Warlic could very easily combat both of you and win. He and I have sparred on more than one occasion, and it has been fully proven that even he cannot best me. Unless, of course, you wish to test my words and your luck? I'm always up for a good sparring match." An almost devilish grin showed that he was ready for a good spar. Just because he was a Guardian didn't mean that he didn't enjoy a good fight.

A grin crossing her lips, Luna replied, "Maybe. I do enjoy a chance to cut loose a bit. But I don't think here is a good place for it. We don't want to destroy the tower do we?"

Ah, I knew I was forgetting something. We're in Canterlot, the capital right? More specifically, in the royal castle. I do hope there is somewhere we can go if we are going to fight. Gotta make some good first impressions somehow, and I doubt destroying the room they have given me would be a kind way to repay the favor. "That we do not, Princess Luna. Though, what with everything going on today, I doubt now is a good time. Maybe in a few days after celebrations have died down?"

"That sounds favorable to me. Speaking of which, we should be getting ready to attend the ceremony. Do you have a formal suit to wear?"

"I... don't." Of all the things I would need, why is a formal suit one of them? Oh right, because I had no idea that a temporal flux in a random forest that was told to me by Warlic would SEND ME TO ANOTHER UNIVERSE. "I think I'll just wear my Ultra Guardian Armor. Besides being one of my strongest armors, it is the most formal." Putting on the entire suit, straps and plates all correctly aligned, Heaross proceeded to give a small model show for Luna. "Do I look good? Do I look dangerous? Am I someone you would swoon over to protect you, hair flowing freely, staring into a sunset?" Giving a dramatic pose, Heaross tried his hardest not to crack up laughing.

Luna was currently failing at not laughing. "BWAHAHAHA!" After a solid minute of laughter, and another few of just trying to compose themselves, Heaross and Luna finally calmed down enough to resume normal conversation. "Oh, thank you for that. I have not had such a good laugh in ages."

"Hahaha... Don't mention it. If you need another just look for me. I'm happy to entertain. Now, in all seriousness, does my armor look good? Are you seeing any scrapes or rust that need to be fixed?" Spinning around so she could get a good look, Heaross was having a hard time noticing anything out of place himself. The black accents marking chain or plate linking were clean, his golden spikes for limb attacks and defensive wariness were intact, shining too, and his solid black cape - which he had yet to put on - was immaculate of any dust or dirt, and no tears were present in the fabric at all.

"I am not seeing anything wrong with your armor. Though I may express some distaste at the name of your armor. A little unoriginal, is it not?"

"It's more for classifying the armor instead of making it sound cool. It's essentially a much upgraded variant of the standard issue Guardian Armor. If I had my way, it would be named the X-Guardian set, but I didn't get to name it in creation." Oh man, if only she knew what I was making a reference too... Now there's something that would make a good impression. Too bad the order is set in secrecy, it might really set me in their good books. Guess just being a Guardian will have to do for now.

"X-Guardian? While it does sound more respect commanding, it is just an X placed before the name right?" Luna gave a questioning look, not quite understanding the importance of it.

"Eh, it just sounds cool to me. In any case, the official name is the Ultra Guardian Armor. It, quite unfortunately, is not going to change any time soon, if only for respect of its creator. Enough time tarrying here, we have a new princess to celebrate! And I'm hungry. I need food."

Giving a chuckle, Luna smiled and said, "Well, let us see if we can't solve both of those problems. Follow me Heaross, I'll make sure that no one will bother such a strong, handsome, and courageous warrior such as yourself!" Again laughing, Luna and Heaross made their way to the kitchens, where preparations for the feast were heavily underway. Luckily that Celestia and Luna had larger doorways fit, considering their taller size compared to the other ponies, it made getting through rooms easier for the tall warrior, considering that he was about 2 feet taller than most of the residents here.

Luna went to talk to a cook regarding where they could find something to eat for breakfast, while Heaross subconsciously noted windows and possible weapons, plans if someone was to come in and attack. ...maybe that center island could provide cover from a bow or magic bolt, and those knives on top I could throw to provide cover to any trying to escape, or maybe I can simply use the Spiral Carve ability from the Blade of Awe to discourage wannabe attackers. The smartest choice for armor would probably be the Fujin armor, considering its high speed and wind resistance, though maybe- Realizing what he was doing, Heaross shook his head, trying to enjoy himself for the day. Though his armor rarely comes off, the warrior does like to relax every once in a while. Maybe a day without being attacked isn't so bad. I don't think being bored is in the schedule today, so lets just have some fun for once.

Noticing Luna returning, Heaross smiled, hoping that she had managed to procure some food. A hearty breakfast was just what the warrior needed. "Any luck on finding some food?"

"Most of the cooks are busy," Luna said, "but a few of them can make something for us to eat quickly. It should be about 20 minutes or so until they finish with our meals, so care for a bit of exploring?" Feeling reassured that his morning won't be missing the most important part, Heaross easily agreed, thinking that a walk around the castle could help him relax a bit.

As they walked around, they passed many a pony preparing for the celebration and getting things in place for it, most commonly in the courtyard. In fact, the courtyard was where most of the activity was taking place, so taking a walk around there was a bit out of the question. As they passed many halls and rushing ponies, they did happen across a white stallion with a blue mane, wearing a red vest with a shield containing the same 6 pointed star Heaross saw upon Twilight, which he had learned were called 'Cutie Marks.' Maybe they're related? I do remember hearing a few guards saying the captain was proud of his little sister, and this does look like someone who would be a captain of the guards.

"Halt! Sir, what are you doing with Princess Luna? And how come I haven't seen you enter Canterlot or even around the castle?" Oh yeah, this guy was definitely the captain of the guard. Time to give him a little wake up call.

"Ah, you must be Shining Armor! Captain of the Guard, and sister to dear Twilight Sparkle! I have heard about you and your fearless leadership, how you and your bride, Cadence, Princess of Love, managed to defeat an entire army of changelings with just the power of your love for each other. Quite impressive, I must say!" If Luna's reaction was any indicator, nobody expected this stranger who had showed up just the day before to learn that much in so little time.

Shining Armor, on the other hand, wasn't showing any emotion besides a battlefield shell, ready for combat. "Who are you, how do you know my name, and what are you planning here? Speak now, before I blow that smug grin clean off your face." Ooh, someone was feeling feisty.

Trying very hard to not crack up laughing, Heaross responded, "My name is Heaross, Legendary Adventurer and Guardian at your service. I learned this much through some sources I have managed to protract, and my plan? Well, you won't see it in action until later today, but I promise you, it will be quite surprising!" Smirking quite widely now, and trying his damndest not to laugh very hard, Heaross left with Luna to continue exploring the castle, leaving a very stunned and confused Shining Armor in his wake.

"...okay, I have to ask. What is your 'surprise' for later today? You aren't planning on hurting anypony, are you?"

"That, dear Luna, would ruin the surprise! And as much as I like spoiling fun things, this one you'll just have to see for yourself. Don't worry though, I have no plans to hurt anyone or anything during it. Could you perchance watch Celestia while I deliver it though? I have a feeling that her face will be a monument to laugh at for centuries." The entire time, his grin never left, leaving Luna a slight bit worried, but taking his word that he won't hurt anyone.

After walking for a time more, the 2 eventually made their way back to the kitchen in hopes of receiving their breakfast they had commissioned earlier. As it was, fortune was on their side, for as they arrived the cook holding their orders came out of the kitchen, prepared to search the castle for them. "Ah," Luna said, "it smells wonderful. Thank you, cook, both for your fortuitous timing and wonderful expertise in the culinary arts." It appears Heaross wasn't the only one feeling quite hungry.

Feeling generous, Heaross stopped the cook and handed him both a healing and a mana potion. "Take these, and hand them to your supervisor. Tell them to add these to the cake batter for the party later today. It will make the festivities much more... interesting. If they express doubt whether or not to add the 2 potions, get them to take a small sip. It will very easily change their mind. Now go and get a raise." Smiling, Heaross rose from talking to the pony, accepting his morning meal. Feeling confident he just made the day that much better, he walked with Luna to where they would eat and enjoyed his meal. Sunny side up eggs, jellied toast, and warm hash browns, while in a vibrant garden. Today is going to be a good day.

...that is, until Celestia decided to join the 2 for breakfast as well. Sighing, Heaross put on a mask of indifference, deciding to show no emotion while Celestia had deigned to interrupt such a beautiful morning. "Hello, Princess Celestia. To what do we owe the nature of this visit?"

For lack of a better word, Celestia seemed a bit crestfallen. "You can drop the fake niceties, Heaross. I know you aren't pleased by my presence. I came to apologize for my actions last night. I acted rudely and jumped to conclusions, barely giving you a chance to explain yourself. I am dearly sorry for treating you like such."

This... was a very different response to what Heaross had expected. Giving a heavy sigh of relief, Heaross let his mask drop. "I accept your apology Celestia, on the condition that you don't let what had happened in the past color your outlook of me now. I may love a good fight, but I do not intentionally seek to harm those who do not wish it. I don't have many plans to stay for the longest of times either. My coming here was an incident, but so far, one I don't think I'll regret. Let us start again. My name is Heaross. What is yours?"

Smiling, she said, "My name is Celestia. May I enjoy breakfast with you and my sister?"

"It would please me for you to join us." Yes, today was going to be a good day.

...oh, for fucks sake! Rising from his delicious meal, Heaross drew the Blade of Awe, and using the Spiral Carve ability, cut down a large tree branch. Celestia seemed more than a little angry. "Heaross! What is the matter of this?"

Ignoring her, he went over to the branch where a certain cyan colored unicorn was laying on the ground, dazed from falling so suddenly. "I thought I made myself clear, Lyra." Lyra, for her part, was still laying on the ground, a quill and notepad beside her. "I said I would answer your questions later. And now, you have not only interrupted an amazing morning, you also disturbed mine and the Princess' breakfast."

Celestia stepped in then, deciding that today was not a good day for someone to die. "Calm down Heaross, she was just wanting to learn more about you."

"That doesn't excuse her actions, nor does it permit interrupting our breakfast. This is the second time." Taking a moment to control his anger, Heaross let himself be very clear to the young unicorn. "This is strike two. If you follow me again, I will make sure you can't follow me again. Now go home, and don't bother me again."

The entire time this exchange was taking place, Luna just continued her breakfast.

The Ceremonial Promise

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Twilight is so going to freak. Then again, so is everyone else. I bet she'd probably keep the most level head, especially since she'll be right in the center of it all. Celestia and Luna though, they will freak out, probably the most, considering they'd be the only ones to understand what I'm going to do. Shining Armor is going to be so pissed...

As Heaross practiced his lines to himself, and steeled all of his courage, a pony, once again uninvited, walked into his to room, presumably to converse. "You really are insane, you know that right?"

"Ah, a mind reader! I was wondering when I would find one of you." Heaross looked to the source of the voice to see yet another alicorn, this one pink with several different accents of colors going through her hair. Her cutie mark was a - sapphire? blue diamond? some light blue gem - in the shape of a heart supported on both sides by an ornate golden stand. "Princess Mi Amore Candeza, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"

Detecting his fake niceties and blatant sarcasm, Cadence satirically responds, "For thou to know the name I wish not to use, one must be quite informed. I hope this not to be some poor attempt for ending thine life! For sooth, dear warrior, I am helpless at your sword."

Okay, you're different from the other mind readers I've met. I would prefer it though if you kept your thoughts away from mine. I have been trained to withstand mind control, and any attempts will end very poorly for you. And not just because I can end you with little more than a strike of my hand.

"Your privacy is to yourself Heaross. Though, I am curious, while I did detect what you were going to do, I didn't see a reason why. Care to explain?"

Finally feeling her tendrils of thought peeling away from his mind, he let his guard down so he could relax without sounding like he was waging a war. Of course he was doing that, but with his own mind. "I have thought about it for quite some time, and no other course of action I have extrapolated on would lead me to the greatest scenario possible. My plans, even if this were to fall through, would be to go to Ponyville and watch the town for any dangers. I have seen a few maps, and the small town is the least protected, with practically no guard presence. Besides giving me a more official reason to go, it certainly will net me into quite a few ponies good books. I do aim to please, and I'm more than certain a fledgling princess will need all the help she can get."

"That is true," said Cadence, "but are you certain you wanna go through with this? You know you can't take back an oath like that."

"I have seen my other options, and this is the best one, both in short and long term. It will make an effect and give the impression that if someone like Twilight Sparkle can command a warrior like I, then the respect she would have gained will be tenfold. If there is one thing that always ruins a starting kingdom, it's dissent and disrespect. While I doubt it would happen to Twilight, even if I don't go through with this, it just seals the deal that she is not someone to run over like a coward king. Or I suppose queen in this case."

Cadence was silent for a few minutes, pondering what the Guardian had said. Said Guardian, meanwhile, was preparing for the coronation. Giving a small start, she eyed Heaross warily.

"Is there something on my armor? I'm not missing anything, am I?" Heaross didn't even need to look to tell that Cadence was watching him carefully. "Or," he turned to look directly in Cadence's eyes, "am I just that enrapturing?" The snarky smile just confirmed that he was simply playing around.

Cadence didn't take her eyes off of him though, for she said, "Did you scare my husband? Earlier today he came to me and asked if he had placed enough guards around the castle and near Twilight. Said something about someone having a surprise ready."

Heaross just laughed, his amusement easy to see. "Unless he saw me give those 2 potions to the cook that delivered mine and Luna's breakfast, he should be pretty clueless. You already saw what I was planning, so tell him he doesn't have to fear anything. Though, can you tell him to stay away from the cake? Unless you're planning on staying awake all night. I mean, I don't know married life, so maybe you do."

Visibly relaxing, Cadence chuckled, her fears assuaged for the time being. Afterwards, the 2 had some small talk while waiting for the ceremony, finishing up any preparations to be made. When the bells rang out across the castle, they made their way towards the royal cathedral and the high set balcony where Twilight was to give a speech after officially receiving her title of being a Princess from the other 3. Heaross fit into this schedule as working as a personal guard for the royalty, until after Celestia placed the Element of Magic atop her head, where he would go and present his surprise for all of Equestria to see.

Everything set in place, the only thing to do was now wait until Celestia had finished her speech of Twilight's accomplishments and her pride of her former student. "Fillies and gentlecolts, may I present for the very first time, Princess Twilight Sparkle." Then Twilight walked in, adorned in a gown of pink with gold accents, her wings flared for all to see. Banner mares followed her, them flanked by royal guards, all singing in chorus. She came to the altar where the 3 Princesses, the other Elements of Harmony, and Spike carrying a pillow with the crown holding the Element of Magic all waited. Spike presented the crown, Celestia took her magic and lifted the Element atop Twilight's head.

Cheering rang out all through the halls of the cathedral, until Heaross raised his voice above the crowd, calling for a hold in ceremony. Many were confused, some seemed agitated, while others were downright furious for him interrupting such a momentous occasion. "Ponies of Equestria, I do apologize for the hold in such a glorious day," Heaross' voice boomed out, "and I too hold in my heart that this day will go in history. My name is Heaross, and while I have only arrived to this wonderful land yesterday, never in my 31 years of life have I met a more hospitable and respectful world of enjoyment. I wish only to take a moment of time here, for what I have to say is of negligible importance compared to Princess Twilight Sparkle ascending to a realm of fantastical desires that many have only dreamed of." Turning to Twilight, "Your highness, Princess Twilight Sparkle, you were the first to meet me in this land after I arrived through rather strange circumstances. For lack of a better word, you showed this stranger from a dangerous world kindness and I can never repay the debt I am now sworn by. I wish to start on that fruitless task now, by swearing my name, sword and shield to you."

Drawing his shield and the Blade of Awe still in the scabbard, Heaross walked to Twilight, carrying both in his arms as one would a harmed princess. He drew the Blade of Awe from the sheath, placing his shield upon the ground, and knelt before Twilight, presenting his sword with both hands outstretched, bearing its weight. "I, Heaross Archer, Guardian of Battleon, Legendary Adventurer of my home, and chosen wielder of the Blade of Awe, pledge fealty to you, Princess Twilight Sparkle." Upon his proclamation, many gasps were heard, quite possibly the loudest from Celestia herself. "Do you, Princess Twilight Sparkle, take me as your vassal, to protect you from all threats, serve in whatever manner you may need, and have complete responsibility for my actions as your own, until the day I return to my homeland?"

Twilight, quite understandably, was very taken aback. Not even 5 minutes as a princess and here someone already was, pledging oath and name to her. She had heard of pledging fealty before, having researched it multiple times, so she knew the 2 options she had. She could 1. Take Heaross' sword and place it upon his shoulder, declaring him fit to be her vassal, binding the both of them until terms favorable to both of them were met, or 2. She could declare him unfit to be her vassal, shaming him and ruining what reputation he may have had. Twilight was visibly stunned, but that could only cover her thoughts for so long. Deciding to play his game, Twilight took the Blade of Awe in her magic, and placed it upon the nape of his neck.

Wow, that's a headache, crap, where are my mana potions, SHIT THAT WAS MY SWORD.

Heaross currently was dealing with the effects of a hangover. He knew the potions in the cake were a good idea, but maybe spiking the punch bowl with 3 mana potions wasn't one, especially with 4 alicorns being rather thirsty. Somewhere through the night, he had switched to the Overlord set, most likely after spiking said punch bowl. He just wondered who put vodka in it, before he had gotten there. Whoever it was, he wanted to both thank them and rip their head off.

So the party was great. While he doesn't remember the last quarter of it, he does remember several "noble" ponies having a little too much cake and punch, ending up in some rather fond memories. Like when Celestia had 3 cups and tried to challenge Heaross to a duel. His honor at stake, Heaross took the duel, and subsequently finished it in less than a second. Primarily by tipping over Celestia, who had fallen asleep standing up. Or when Cadance "proposed" to him an offer of a "fun night." That's when Shining Armor tried to duel him.

Finding his potions, Heaross grabbed one blindly and downed it. He was rather lucky he grabbed a mana potion and not a healing one. After spending a moment trying to remember where he was, he saw a balcony outside and a certain black and blue mare standing, staring at the stars. Heaross decided to join her, but after peeling his armor off. Feeling rather glad he always kept a spare change of clothes in the Petverse, he joined Luna, deciding that some fresh air might do him good.

He opened the door to the balcony, not bothering to hide his presence. Luna didn't turn around, she just kept staring at the stars and moon. "Feeling a bit remorseful?" A rather cheeky Heaross asked.

"If only you knew how much that were true."

"You know you shouldn't bother saying something like that when you know the actual answer."

"Hmm. True. But I think the better question is what were you doing in my bedroom? Feeling rather naughty?"

"Frankly, I have no idea. I just woke up 5 minutes ago. While I have no idea who spiked the punch bowl with vodka, I will admit to spiking it with 3 mana potions. That was a very fun night."

"I suppose it was," replied a tired Luna, "but may I ask why you took the duel Celestia wanted? You saw how drunk she was."

"That was for 2 reasons. One, I am honor bound to accept any duel. My pride as a warrior won't let me refuse a fight. Two, I could see she was drunk, and if I didn't she probably would have done something very bad. Like annoy me until I did accept the duel."

"I suppose that would have been quite bad."

"Very." The pair stood in silence for a time, that is, until Heaross went inside, grabbed his sword, came back out, and proceeded to throw it a wall. Suddenly, a cyan blue unicorn appeared, stuck to the wall by her tail because of the blade Heaross threw. "At this point, I am very tempted to chop her head off. The only reason I'm not is because her girlfriend came to me and asked me not to. That, and I don't want to make enemies of the people I just made friends with."

Luna looked somewhat relieved upon hearing this. After a moment, she and Heaross went inside to continue their conversation without any nosy ponies listening in. They sat in fairly comfortable silence for a time, simply enjoying each other's company. "You are going to let her down?" Asked a questioning Luna.

"After long enough." Heaross easily replied. "I'll take her down tomorrow morning, when she no doubt will have passed out from blood rushing to her head. Then I will contact her girlfriend, and proceed to give her the heaviest chains I can find."

Laughing quite happily, Luna enjoyed this strange warrior. Besides being a loyal protector and friend, he wasn't afraid to do what needed to be done, whether the outcome was having a good time, or ensuring the safety of his friends. She was rather curious about how he sometimes just ceased laughing a little too quickly, or sometimes looked forlorn coming from his Petverse (Luna loved the name as well, and can never get over how cute it sounded). Her curiosity peaking, she asked why this was.

Instead of answering immediately, as was his norm, Heaross drummed his fingers against the chair he was in. He sat in silence for a few minutes debating something. Then, he got up and found a mirror. He sat beside Luna, his message requiring the close quarters. "I have a little lesson for you Luna. It's something I learned too late, too long gone. This lesson is the story of The Mare in the Mirror. Do you see the mare staring back at you when you look in the mirror? Follow her eyes, the way she always sees yours too. This mare sees everything you do and is always judging you and your actions, no matter how small. Even the most minute of things can change her opinion of you. The lesson is thus: When you find yourself unable to stare her in the eyes, then you have finally become what you most fear."

Luna was somber for a moment before realizing something. "Heaross, what do you see when stare into your eyes?"


The Start of Something

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Trains. They may not be as fast as a teleport spell, or even me running, but they do seem rather good, if costly, for extreme distances. I may be slightly biased because I am impatient, but it matters little how we get to the Crystal Empire, just so long as we do. Though, I am curious as to why all of Twilight's friends had to come. Is it because they're all Elements of Harmony? Or did Twilight just not want to be separated from them? Whatever the reason, I'll just ask her later, we're approaching the Crystal Empire.

Giving a tired sigh, Heaross turned his neck, popping it as much as he can. The very satisfying crack he felt elicited a small groan from him, and he repeated by turning his neck the other way. Twilight noticed this and felt slightly worried for the warrior, considering the extremely loud pops coming his spine. "Are you alright Heaross? Those were some rather loud cracks."

"I'm fine," replied the Guardian, "just a little wound up I suppose. Once we get to the Crystal Empire, I'll see if I can't steal the royal chiropractor for a few minutes."

"Alright, but make sure you don't stress yourself too much. I don't need my protector down because of a back injury, now do I?"

"You should know about stress, Ms. Anxiety. Besides, I'll be fine. You fight in a war wearing this heavy armor, and nothing can make you strain yourself too much."

"If you say so..." Twilight did worry about his health wearing said heavy armor, but if he actually does wear it everyday, then he should be fine. Didn't stop her from worrying, though. Finding the train stopped at the Empire Station, the 8 disembarked, getting ready for the royal summit that was to take place later in the afternoon. As they were walking, Heaross very suddenly pulled Twilight to his side, coming to a very abrupt stop. "Heaross, what are you-"

"Shhhh..." Heaross listened closely, his eyes darting seemingly everywhere. "THERE!" He shouted, pointing to a rooftop. Acting quickly, he jumped to said rooftop, and gave chase to the mystery pony who almost attempted an assassination on Twilight. He ran quickly, easily catching up to the hooded figure, and caught whoever it was by the cloak. As the cloak was rather strong in it's material, it slowed the pony for a moment, but for only long enough for Heaross to pull it off the pony. It revealed a black and green stallion, with blue eyes and a cutie mark showing a green potion that was steaming. With a loud gasp, the mysterious assassin ran again, attempting to outrun the warrior on his trail. Heaross didn't give in his chase though, simply packing the cloak in the Petverse for later inspection, and resumed running. Bastard is fast... If I don't end this now, he'll try and run out of the Empire. I could no doubt catch him even if he did, but I might get lost in the massive blizzard outside the magical dome here. Let's see if I can't use Twilight's Mantle to catch him. Switching to said Mantle, Heaross equipped a dark robe that shadows all of his features, even making his arms look like black skeleton bones. Using the great speed boost and added shadow flight, he easily caught up to the stallion and grabbed him, carrying the assassin high above the ground. He flew slowly to where Twilight and her friends were, the smart mare casting a large bubble around them for protection.

Heaross switched back to his Ultra Guardian Armor, still flying, and fell to the ground rather fast, causing the stallion still held in his arms to scream very loudly, obviously scared for his life. Heaross crashed to the ground, causing small craters to appear around his feet, and releasing a plume of dust. "My Liege, I have an assassin. What do you want me to do with him?"

Feeling scared, but forcing herself to be brave, Twilight responded ignoring his formal use of title to him, "Bring him with us to the castle. I want Celestia's opinion on this."

Nodding, Heaross let Twilight cast an immobilizing spell on the assassin, who he carried over his shoulder to the castle. Twilight also sent a quick letter to Celestia who was waiting on them that they were bringing said assassin, and to prepare a dungeon cell. Needless to say, this visit was very ruined.

"Ahh, right there Heaross... A little harder, oh yes... more, please... oh, that feels so good... Fingers are amazing..."

Twilight Sparkle, Element of Magic, newly ascended alicorn, and liege lord of Heaross was currently little more than putty in the warrior's deft hands. One of the requirements for Guardian Initiation is learning damage control in a tense situation, including dealing with a traumatized or overly stressed victim. Strangely, another requirement was learning how to give a very relaxing massage. Heaross was putting both of those skills to work at the moment, giving the young alicorn some much needed chirapsia.

As he gave his liege a rest from the tiring day-to-day politics of being a princess, he mulled over the day and the strange assassin's sentencing. A long and strenuous interrogation revealed that his name was Hidden Blade (Heaross almost lost his composure at the name), he was payed a very hefty sum of bits, and that he didn't know his buyer's name. Just that whoever it was is a unicorn mare, had a mane colored red with yellow-orange highlights, and had a cutie mark like a blazing sun. Celestia seemed rather taken aback at the description, but didn't tell anyone what the pony meant to her. Heaross had full intentions of questioning her about this matter later.

For now though, Twilight was his main concern, as she was the one targeted by Hidden Blade. She didn't let it show until they got to a private room, but she was absolutely terrified. Had her warrior not been there, she could have been killed, or might have broken down in fear. Now was bonding time, where Heaross was helping her relax by a few different methods. His first one, the one he was doing now, was giving Twilight a massage. His second method if she hadn't escaped from her fear was for him and her to go into his Petverse, where if safety wasn't a thing there, then it didn't exist. His third method was to simply incapacitate her until such time as he could ensure her safety, despite it never truly being in question. It seemed his first method was working though, given the rather pleasurable moans by the Princess.

Heaross had found that a pony's anatomy was quite similar to cats from his world, rather ironically. Besides making it easier to work on muscles he knew the places of, he also found that the nerve in the scruff of the neck was also there, so he could simply incapacitate a pony just by picking them up by the central nerve found there. Useful information, but not at the current moment. Turning his attention back to his liege, Heaross pressed on a particularly tensed muscle, causing Twilight to almost cry out in pain and relief. Continuing to press on tense muscles and relieve their tension, Heaross enjoyed the work, mostly because it gave him something to do with his hands, but also because it allowed him and Twilight to bond together. Though, with the moans that she's exclaiming, someone outside the door might think that a bit more than just a massage was going on.

Almost perfectly punctuating his point, Applejack and Rainbow Dash burst into the room, yelling for Twilight. "Twilight! Are you..." Rainbow started, but left the sentence hanging as she saw the handwork going on.

Popping a joint, "Do you 2 need anything," Heaross asked, "or are you just paranoid? Because if this is anything less than an emergency, then I'm going to get a pet to ensure some privacy." All the while, he continued his massage on the alicorn, her moans still ringing around the room, and also into the halls.

Applejack answered his question, "We heard Twilight's yells, and thought ya were hurting her." POP! "Yowch, just like that. What are ya doin' anyways? It seems mighty painful..."

Twilight managed to answer her question, showing that she was still fully conscious, however relaxed she might be, "Heaross saw me terrified by the assassin, so he offered a massage. Ooh, right there... He wanted a private room so I wouldn't be stressed by anything, but," looking at her friends now, "it appears some people just can't wait for me to get finished with destressing."

"Relax, Twilight, I'm sure they meant well," giving AJ and Rainbow a very stern glare, "even if they were overly rude. Now I am going to ask you two to leave so that we may finish in relative privacy here."

Hesitant, but ashamed of their rudeness, the pair left the room just as a rather loud moan from Twilight echoed into the halls as well. They shut the door before starting a whispered conversation about if Heaross and Twilight could be dating, or even had crushes on each other. Hearing their talking, Heaross opened the Petverse and let 2 of his dragons come out, Scorch and Frost, Fire and Ice respectively, to guard the room from any further intruders, and to discourage the gossiping mares from sticking around any longer. The resulting screams of fear from the hallway made him chuckle.

Despite the rude interruption, Twilight relaxed well enough until she was about to fall asleep. Noticing, Heaross carried her to the bed that she would be staying in so she could be set to sleep. Just as he set her down so he could inform his dragons more, and to personally give a patrol of the hallway, Twilight stopped him, saying, "Don't leave me, please. I don't feel safe without you here." Despite the clarity with which she said this, her fear and weariness broke through her voice, showing that she wasn't lying and wanted him to stay there.

Heaross felt more worried for her than he logically should have. Maybe it was his oath binding them, but that just didn't feel right to him. He'd figure it out later, for now his liege was scared and needed him. "I'm here, Twilight. I'm just going to step outside for a moment. A few minutes at the most, alright? I promise I will come right back."

Her sniffles almost broke his heart, the poor thing was so scared. "Just for a moment?"

"Just a moment. Here, let me get you a more personal guard you can hug." Reaching into the Petverse for a moment, he pulled out a pillow with a picture of a pug breed of dog. "This is Mr. Puggleton. He helped me a lot when I got scared. Just give him a good hug."

Heaross set Mr. Puggleton in Twilight's arms, and following his advice, gave the pug pillow a good squeeze. "Thank you. Please hurry, though, I'm not sure how much of a deterrent a pillow could be."

Giving a warm smile, "I will Twilight. Just a moment." He left the room then to talk to his dragons and give an inspection of the hallway. "Scorch, Frost, I want you 2 to remain here through the night. Guard this room, and make sure no one enters unless given permission by me or Twilight. If someone wants to enter, roar for us and I'll come out. Remember, do not eat anyone unless they try to get in here without permission from us. I'm going to take a look around the halls for just a moment. Stay here, above all else. Got it?" Realizing just how rude he sounded, he gave a tired sigh. Heaross gave both of his dragons good scratching on their necks, "I'm sorry if I seem a bit tense. Today has just been a bit tiring. We're fighting a different battle this time, and our claws and teeth can only get us so far in this one." They nuzzled him then, Scorch rubbing his neck against Heaross' chest, Frost rubbing hers against his arm. "Thanks you two. I'll make sure to reward you in the morning, alright? Good night."

Heaross left, intent on walking the halls to ascertain if it was safe to sleep at all tonight. The assassin had him on edge since the attack, considering that in his world, assassins were very rare, and if one got called on you, then you must have fucked up hard somewhere, as well as the fact that this strange world had such peace and prosperity that something like that was bound to set people on edge, him included. Besides a few strange closets that he couldn't detect any mana from, there really wasn't anything of major note in the halls.

As he walked, Heaross mulled over his and Twilight's friendship. We are friends, but what was that feeling earlier? I don't think I've felt that worried for someone since Dekio, and that was years ago! And what she had said, "I don't feel safe without you here," could that have more meaning than just face value? I know that she has been scared out of her mind, but she doesn't quite strike me as the mare to say something like that without being genuine. I need to get back to comfort her, but my heart is beating so fast, like I'm fighting Artix again. Oh shit, am I actually blushing?

Quite suddenly, a loud roar was heard, almost in pain, coming from Twilight's room. Oh fuck, that was Frost! Who needs to get in that bad?! Now even more worried, Heaross ran towards the direction of the roar, intent on decapitating whoever had hurt his dragon. Frost and Scorch were very strong, only matched by a select few of his other pets. When working together, the pair of dragons were practically unstoppable. If someone could hurt Frost while Scorch was with her, then whoever it was had to be exceedingly dangerous.

Quickly making it to the makeshift guards for Twilight, Heaross saw Frost and Scorch in battle against a unicorn, who almost perfectly matched the description Hidden Blade had given them. By looks alone, anyone would say that his dragons were hard pressed to match the unicorn, but Heaross could see they were holding back, for fear of destroying something or letting the unicorn past them. "Scorch, Frost. I want you to eat this pony alive." The unicorn blanched then, realizing that the dragons had been with holding their true strength. Suddenly now scared, she cast a teleporting spell to get away from them, barely missing getting ripped in half by the pair of beasts.

Grumbling, Heaross made his way into Twilight's room, intent on finding the pony. He saw the mysterious pony trying to take the Element of Magic from it's glass case, while Twilight was pressed against the wall, surrounded by a magical aura. Deciding now is a good time to stop fucking around, Heaross silently went behind the mysterious pony, grabbed her horn, and squeezed. Feeling a very satisfying crack, he let go, letting the pony fall to the ground, writhing in pain. The magic surrounding Twilight and the glass case disappeared, dispersed into the surroundings. Twilight slowly slid to the ground, crying in fear. Heaross could just feel his heart breaking at such a cute thing crying, especially with his rather confusing feelings.

Thinking quickly, Heaross knocked the top of the mare's head, maybe a little too strongly, knocking her out. He then went to Twilight, and started trying to calm her down. He went and picked her up, carrying her in his arms. Instead of trying to scurry away, she clung to her warrior, crying even harder. Heaross went to the bed that she was supposed to be in, and cuddled her there for a lengthy time. Twilight continued to cry for several minutes, but Heaross was prepared to stay there the entire night if need be. Thankfully, the terrified alicorn finished crying after a long enough time, and was now just sniffling and occasionally sneezing. "I suppose Mr. Puggleton didn't really help, did he?"

Giving a wet laugh, Twilight shakily responded, "No, I don't think he did. I'm not even sure where he is right now."

"Don't worry about it. I'll find him later. For now though, how are you? Stupid question I know, but what are you feeling?"

Taking a moment to collect herself, "Scared. I'm trying to not break down again, but you hugging me is really helping."

"Take as long as you need, Twilight," Heaross truthfully responded. He had hit the mare harder than was probably needed, so whatever her name was would be out for hours, at the least.

"Can you do me a small favor?"

"Anything, Twilight."

"Can you take off your armor? It's really hard, and uncomfortable."

Blushing slightly, considering he forgot that he was even wearing it, Heaross took off his armor, packing it off to the side for later. Afterwards, he resumed cuddling with Twilight, trying very hard to keep calm in the situation. Besides wanting nothing more than to drive the mare who had hurt Twilight insane, his heart was also absolutely pounding in his chest. After a moment, Heaross finally let himself relax and embrace the hugging. A moment later, he realized something.

I've fallen in love with Twilight Sparkle.

Assassin's Judgement

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"Sunset Shimmer, you are accused of the following charges: Attempted assassination of a ruler, Attempted theft of an Element of Harmony, Assault of a ruler, Harm of one Heaross' pet how in the fuck is a dragon a pet... and a case of breaking and entering."

It was the next day, and the court case was being presided by Cadence, who was the most neutral princess aside from Luna, who was nocturnal and couldn't attend due to being asleep. It was discovered that Celestia was the former teacher for Sunset Shimmer, and that Sunset had used a mirror to escape to another realm. The reason that Heaross and Twilight couldn't be judge was that they were directly involved in the incident, and Celestia had personal history to Sunset. Cadence had no prior knowledge of Sunset, and had no direct interaction with the case. Most impartial judge possible, maybe not, but she was the most impartial princess, despite having clear relations to everyone who isn't Sunset.

"How do you plead?" Cadence was doing a marvelous job of being a judge, despite this being her first time. She had even told Heaross that she was nervous.

"I... plead guilty."

...really? All that hard work, and she just gives up. I would have expected a bit more resistance, but maybe she's afraid of me being able to choose her sentence. If we were playing by my world's rules, then the minimum sentence would be life in prison. The most she could get would be a death sentence. I don't know this world's law rules though, so I'll just have to play it by ear.

"Attempted assassination of a ruler would already sentence you to life in prison, and so would Assault of a ruler. Harm of Heaross' pet condemns you to his punishment, considering his status as advisor and protector of Twilight Sparkle. Breaking and Entering just pushes things over the edge, so in minimum, you would face banishment. This is, of course, if Heaross wills it. His involvement also includes his world's laws. Put simply, he has control over your fate."

Okay, this was not what I was expecting. Equestria takes its laws extremely serious. I have control over her? Well, I can certainly think of a few punishments that would be quite entertaining. Maybe... Okay, yeah, doing that. Sunset looked in fear at the Warrior, genuinely scared now. Heaross had a very evil smirk, ecstatic at what he had thought of. "I have thought of an appropriate punishment. In my world, the maximum punishment one can receive is a fate worse than death. I have an alternate punishment, considering how gruesome my world can be. She harmed Frost, my pet Ice Dragon. Needless to say, she and Scorch, her mate, are very angry at her. My punishment is that she would be the personal servant to my dragons. All of them."

Many gasps were heard, considering how dragons were the most feared creatures in all of Equestria. Being a servant to one? Suicide, at best. "I have a total of 8 dragons, one of each element of my world. Fire, Water, Wind, Ice, Earth, Energy, Light, and Darkness. I have trained my dragons to only kill on command, or when their death is the only other result. I will command them to do with her as they wish, short of killing her, unless she attempts to harm them or any other of my pets." Sunset Shimmer looked terrified at this point. Being a slave to dragons? She'd rather take death at this point. That did make her curious as to what the actual worst punishment his world had, because if that's supposed to be his mercy, then what was the worst? "Just for reference, the actual worst punishment my world has is something you might be able to relate to, Celestia. Insomnia, Immobility, Immortality." That... didn't sound too bad in all honesty.

"Your world is terrifying, Heaross," Celestia all but screamed.

Sunset took to her new job quite well. She had already cleaned out the poo pen, and had fed all of the dragons in an hour. Quite impressive, but Heaross could do it in 10 minutes. Normally, a new servant would take at minimum 2 hours just for the pen, and another hour for feeding. Needless to say, the pets were quite happy, especially Frost when she heard the news.

As Heaross left the Petverse, and Sunset to do her job, he found Twilight back in her room, again cowering in fear. Despite the fact that no one in their right mind would attempt to hurt Twilight again, especially with Heaross there, she was still scared. Heaross also had trouble, but with his own emotions regarding the young alicorn. Getting a feeling, he checked under the bed and found Mr. Puggleton there. He grabbed the pillow and handed him to Twilight, while Heaross sat on the edge of the bed. Wrestling with his inhibitions and feelings, "Are you okay, Twilight? Sunset is now in the Petverse, away from you."

Looking up with tears, Twilight responded, "It's not that, Heaross. It's just the concept of someone wanting me dead. I know that being a Princess can come with a lot of hardships, but I didn't think that people would hate me that much." Sitting up, she hugged Mr. Puggleton tightly, taking comfort in his softness and toy ears. She was breathing heavily, trying not to break under the stress.

Heaross thought for a moment on how he could help. The most he could think of was unhooking his breastplate, and placing Twilight there while he relatched the straps. "Feeling protected now?" A cheeky grin and warm hug told Twilight that he was serious about protecting her, even her mental stability.

Laughing, "Yes, I do. Thank you, Heaross." She took comfort in the warrior's warm chest and abs, then she looked straight at him. "Can you do me a favor?"

"At your service, my liege."

"Okay, 2 things. One, can you please not call me 'liege' anymore? We're friends, and I don't want us to be so formal when we're talking." She seemed rather annoyed at this, but quickly brightened when Heaross chuckled, nodding his confirmation. "Thank you. My second thing..."

Hey, is she blushing? Hard to tell with the purple coat, but she definitely looks redder than normal. "...never mind. It's not important."

"What is it, Twilight? You know you don't have to be scared to confide in me. My oath already binds me to secrecy. Us being friends just reinforces that." Okay, yeah, she is definitely blushing now. Wait, my face feels warm. Shit I'm blushing now too!

"Can you... could you please kiss me?"

Her voice had shrunk down to where Heaross couldn't hear her, even with his Guardian sense of hearing. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you. Can you speak up a bit?" If that was genuinely what Heaross thought that he had heard, he was going to have a stroke. Instead of repeating herself, Twilight just stuck her face into his chest, muffling her sounds. She had said something while like that, but Heaross didn't entirely hear it again. "That tickles, and I still didn't quite hear you."

Moving her face right in his, full blush activated, "Kiss me." It was not a question.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH Moving his head down, Heaross lightly kissed the top of Twilight's head. "There. You happy?" FUCK I'M BLUSHING WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME WHY IS SHE SO FUCKING CUTE

Twilight's voice was quiet and shaky, but the conviction in it spoke leagues. "No, I'm not."

FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK "Oh really? Is there anywhere else you want me to kiss you?"

As Heaross was laying down, Twilight just let herself fall, not holding her neck up anymore, letting gravity take care the job. "Please stop torturing me..." Her sad frown really drove itself into Heaross' stone warrior heart.


"Please, stop Heaross... I'm embarrassed enough as it is..."

FUCKFUCKFUCK I'M ABOUT TO DO IT WHYWHYWHY SHIT I CAN'T STOP MYSELF Reaching over to her, Heaross grabs Twilight's chin, and pulls it slightly up and towards him. He moves his head closer with the greatest smirk to ever have smirked, blushing, "Or maybe... Would you like it right about..." Their lips connect, sending sparks of magic and feelings going everywhere, despite the fact the kiss only lasted a second, "There?"

Twilight was almost hyperventilating. "Yes, please." Heaross was chuckling now, despite the war his mind was waging against his body and feelings, though it was losing.

"Would you like another? Careful, I may just have to assume that you actually like me." Heaross was still blushing, though he knew that the pony cuddling him in his armor was absolutely at his mercy. Or maybe it was the other way around? He wasn't sure anymore, but he did know that he rather enjoying himself, despite everything his logical side was telling him.

Twilight was very submissive, considering her bookworm nature. Heaross was no beginner to romance, but neither did he have much experience in it. He wasn't sure what to expect at this point, besides maybe more kissing. He wasn't a virgin either, but he'd be willing to bet one of his swords that Twilight is. Deciding to just follow his instincts, Heaross kissed her again, holding the contact for longer this time. The whimpers following after were sure signs that Twilight was just as-if not more-embarrassed than he was, but still enjoying it. A low chuckle escaped him, and they simply cuddled for a time, enjoying each other's presence.

Eventually, Heaross said, "You know what everyone is going to say, right?"

"I don't think I really care at this point. Let them talk." Twilight was very relaxed, almost sleeping at this point.

"Hehehe," raising his voice now, "well I think it's about time someone stopped listening in to us before I get Artix to blast those persons away!" Muttered curses and frantic clops were heard right outside of the door, signaling that someone was indeed listening in. Heaross laughed heartily on hearing the curses, and Twilight even enjoyed a few chuckles.

Realizing something, Twilight curiously asked Heaross, "Isn't Artix that paladin friend of yours? How would he blast them away if he isn't here?"

"Oh, yeah, I haven't told you the names of all my pets. Yes, Artix is my good friend, the paladin, but I actually named my light dragon after him," Heaross explained, "When I said Artix, I was referring to my dragon, not the wasabi loving punnist. Artix shows the same disdain for undead and evils that the real Artix does, so that's where the inspiration comes from. He's primarily the reason why I can't have a dracolich."

"Ahh, I understand now." Twilight and Heaross resumed their cuddling, but after he had removed his armor and they got comfy in the bed. Cuddling with a pony isn't as hard as one might think, considering the long length of their back runs almost perfectly the distance of the collarbone to pelvis. "So you don't really care what people think either?"

"Trust me, as a Guardian, you see a massive amount of adversity. People not learning to deal with it is the third most common reason why people quit being a Guardian. I've been a Guardian for 13 years. I've learned to deal with harsh opinions on more than one occasion."

Again, Twilight looked a bit perplexed, "Third most common reason? What's the first 2?"

"The second most common is disability due to limb or mind loss. Guardian's do live a dangerous life, considering all that we protect the world from. The first most common reason is due to the second most common. When people see someone who has just lost an arm, or a leg, many new Guardians would feel sick, or lose their faith in the order. While admittedly, it is rare, the few times that it has happened is more than enough reason for some to not want to risk their life like that. Truthfully? I don't blame them. It is terrifying going into a battlefield, and not knowing if you may come out entirely intact. It could happen to anyone, even me. If luck is not on your side, then you may lose more than just a little blood, or an armor piece."

Twilight thought about this for a moment, but decided to let the matter drop. The conversation had turned grim enough already, and she just wanted to enjoy herself. And Heaross. After a time, she turned in the warrior's arms, and settled herself in having her muzzle right in his chest. Their legs tangled, and they cuddled even harder than before. Smiling, still keeping the blush for so long, Twilight quietly said, "Thank you."

"Hehe, I think I should be thanking you," Heaross replied, just as soft.

"Why? You're the one that started all this, so why do I have to take credit?"

"Because, the life of a Guardian is rather lonely. My original intentions back at the cathedral were to just say the lines, and try to figure out a way back home. Trust me, even right now, this is very abnormal for me. When that assassin attacked, seeing you so scared just... Awoken something in me. Something I thought was gone. That massage may have been part of damage control, but Scorch and Frost? I normally would never have done something like that. I don't like putting my pets in harm's way, even though I know that they would never die against, well, anything. You make me feel... content. Happy. It's like, for once, I finally have something to fight for, instead of just against. So, thank you."

Twilight was actually crying now, but tears of joy instead of fear. Surprising Heaross, she quickly moved up and kissed him, just showing what she was feeling. She held that position for awhile, until they both needed to stop for breath. Blushes in full force, they chuckled a little, and kissed again, though not as forcefully. They continued like that for several more kisses, surprising the other, until they were both very tired. Twilight physically and emotionally, Heaross emotionally and mentally.

Twilight yawned, being the first to show her exhaustion. "Sorry, today has been wonderfully weird. Do you want to go to sleep now, or do you need to do something?"

Heaross gave a smirk, causing Twilight to now start having a few doubts. "Just one thing before we do. Wait here." Heaross disengaged from the alicorn, and turned to the side of the bed. He arose and stretched for a moment, before opening another portal, but not to the Petverse. He gestured for Twilight to follow him, and stepped inside the portal. Twilight got up a moment later, yawning again. She followed the Guardian, stepping through the strange barrier. She looked towards him, and where he was standing, gesturing to the entirety of the space. "This, Twilight, is my personal room. I have entirely outfitted this space with many enchantments, and several facilities to see to any needs one may have. I have a food bar, with any kind of edible substance you may want, a bath with the most fragrant of soaps, and even a bed softer than air. The most useful thing this space has," he went to close the portal, sealing them inside, "is that when all openings are closed, time stands still."

Twilight gasped, shocked at the potential of a place like this. "You mean, we could stay here forever?!"

"As long as you may wish. Another enchantment placed entails that any time spent here will not waste away your life span. You could, quite literally, spend eternity here. And, there is even an infinite bookshelf. Follow me." Twilight did, gasping at almost everything the space had for use. She saw the food bar, a science and magic station entirely fitted with tools of all kinds, a practice range for any type of combat, a med bay that could heal any and all injuries, several beds with many different designs and comforts, and even a hall of Heaross' most valuable possessions. "If I sold everything in here, the total would be more than 2 billion gold. Of course, I don't need that much, but it is reassuring for a particularly rainy day."

Continuing on, they reached the bookshelf that he had spoken of, which had a rotating mechanism and several shelves worth of books. When she rotated the shelves, Twilight found more and more books than should logically fit in such a small space. "Drakel Magiscience. This bookshelf cost me a massive 30 million gold to trade, but never have I regretted the decision. It can hold any book known in the Universe. It even... where is it... Ah!" Flipping to another shelf that had a book that stretched the entirety of the shelf's length,"It holds this marvel of literary work. This book holds the entirety of all the science and experimentation that the Drakel have ever done. If you ever have a question if something will blow up, chances are the Drakel have done it first. And replaced what had been blown up."

Looking around in absolute awe, Twilight asked, "Did you do all of this yourself? How could you even afford it?"

"I actually didn't make all of this myself. Most of the things here were bought, and the things that weren't were either built specifically for this realm, or moved here from another place. The entire project was suggested by Valencia to us Grandmasters. Each of us played a different role in making it, though it certainly wasn't easy. It took us 3 months of nonstop work to build this entire place." The pride in his voice shone through, saying just how much work him and his friends put into this place. "The total cost was about... 150 million? 200? Somewhere around that price range, the main thing is that it was hard to do. Only Valencia and us Grandmasters can come here. We of course can invite people in, but only us 5 know how to open the portal."

Twilight, yet again, looked perplexed, but was answered before she had even asked the question. "No, I can't try and make my way back through here. The opening stays where it was last closed if someone is inside, and trying to coordinate a time when multiple of us might be in is extremely hard. Besides the enchantments essentially forcing us to keep the doors open if we want time to pass, the others don't visit here much. They do come here, but not as much as I normally do. They generally are much busier than I am, so trying to get a good time is hard unless we actually come together to join in. And we can't just leave notes for each other, or leave the portals open. Enchantments placed regularly clean, and close portals if left open. As sad as it is, this place is only meant for rest and relaxation, or a hideaway if things get too bad."

Twilight looked a bit crestfallen, sad that Heaross wouldn't be able to go home so easily. She simply told herself that it meant more time with him, and cheered up as much as she could. "Well, even if you can't go home yet, I'll keep trying to find a way. In the mean time, I'll try and make your stay here as enjoyable as possible." Her resolve set, she flew up to Heaross' height and kissed him again.

When she did this, Heaross quickly grabbed her, and held Twilight against his chest, saying, "You already have."

Twilight nuzzled him, wrapping her fore-hooves around his chest. Looking up at him, she asked, "This is all very impressive, and I must admit I'm jealous you have something like this. But why did you bring me in here?"

"Well, it's bedtime, isn't it?"

"I think it's actually about 7. I normally go to sleep about 9 or 10." Another yawn. "Though, maybe going to sleep a bit earlier might not be a bad thing."

Heaross chuckled, "Well, how about a bed softer than clouds? We spared no expense, and the beds here are the actual greatest ever." He then walked over to the beds, and set Twilight down upon his, taking care not to disturb the others beds. As Twilight was settling in, Heaross quickly moved over to the food bar, grabbing a warm glass of chocolate milk with a straw. He walked back, surprised to see Twilight already under the covers with her head on a pillow.

"Mmm... You were right, this is the softest bed ever..." Heaross quietly laughed, and brought Twilight the chocolate milk, advising her to take a sip. She did, and her eyes brightened widely, starting to take larger mouthfuls of the sweet drink.

"Slow down! You drink too much and you won't be able to sleep. I know, it is very good. Small sips, alright?" Laughing, Heaross took the half-drunk chocolate away, having no intention of letting Twilight get too hyper. The ponies here were much like children, he had noticed. Too much sugar, and they get hyper. Too much excitement, and they crashed easily. Even some of their behaviors were like unsupervised children. Twilight, despite being an alicorn, and being a heavy introvert and bookworm, even displayed some of these traits. Like the chocolate milk. He set said chocolate milk on a night stand away from Twilight, and cuddled up with her, intent on going to sleep.

Twilight huffed a bit on getting her drink taken away, but her logical side said that he was right. Too much sugar and she wouldn't be able to sleep. When Heaross cuddled up to her, she let herself be encased in his warm grasp, tired and very comfy in the bed. They both settled, comfy and drew the blankets up, covering each other. As a dreamless sleep was about to take her, Twilight thought, Huh. So this is what being in love is like.

A Thorn of the Mind, A Thorn in the Side

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At the guest bedroom he was given, Heaross was preparing to bed down for the night to continue his activities the next day. He had just checked on the Petverse and was surprised to find Sunset Shimmer, who was still servant to his dragons, alive. He had made a wager with Celestia on how long she would last there, where he had bet 100 gold that she wouldn't last until the end of the week. Celestia bet that Sunset would be gone by a month's time, with 100 bits, respectively. Luna had gotten into the bet, and bet it would be 3 months before her death. Heaross' sentence was to last 8 months, if she could make it, where she would be officially reintegrated with society. If she hadn't been driven insane, that is.

After finishing with his checklist on pets, and finding them to be alright, Heaross continued with his nightly routine, which generally consisted of cleaning and stowing away his armor and weapons, and a calisthenic routine. After that, and cleaning himself in the guest restroom, Heaross bed down, preparing for sleep. Meditating himself to the dream world, Heaross found himself in a strange hallway, lined with doors of all sizes and colors. Looking down and around gave him a headache, as the floor and walls were ever changing, providing a confusing and migraine-inducing view. Deciding to focus on the doors, he walked down the hall, until something had stopped him.

Tearing his vision away from the doors, Heaross found that he had bumped into Luna, Princess of the Night. "Hello Luna. Might you be a figment of this strange dream, or have I found myself in another dimension altogether?"

Luna, for her part, was wearing a strange expression, like she hadn't expected him. "You find yourself in the Dream Realm, Heaross," Luna wearily answered, "but I express curiosity at how you managed to find your way here. Only I know the way in, and here I spend my nights, walking the halls and remedying nightmares and bad dreams caused by the unrest of the soul."

"Hmm," Heaross replied, "I seem to have a strange knack for dimension hopping, don't I?" His small joke lightened the mood, if Luna's chuckles were any indicator. "In all seriousness, I have not a clue on how I made my way here. Maybe some other cosmic force sent me here to do what you might be unable to. I am just as unsure as you. If matters allow, may I explore a few dreams?"

"You may," Luna granted, "But don't hurt anypony you meet. Harm in the dreams can sometimes extend to harm in the real world. Also, stay away from Pinkie Pie's dreams. Terrors are nothing compared to that strange mare's night visions..."

"Thank you Luna, I won't hurt anyone while I am here." Heeding her warning, knowing that the cupcake loving pony was extremely strange, "I won't deign to bother Pinkie, if my continued sanity is of any measure of worth."

Relieved, Luna wished the Guardian a well night, and continued on her way. Heaross, rather curious, decided to find his friend's dreams and take a peek into their inner thoughts. As he made his way, the warrior found Applejack's dream first, and Rainbow Dash's beside it. Taking a peek, Heaross found her and Rainbow at a restaurant. Just as he was about to leave, he saw the two kiss, and more than a little steamy. Taking another peek, this time at Rainbow Dash, he found the same thing, but at Sweet Apple Acres. Oh, tomorrow will be very fun.

Finding Rarity's dream next, Heaross took a peek and found her designing dresses, even in her dreams, but the dresses were for him. Despite going against his masculinity, he had to admit they would look good on him. Oh god, I hope she doesn't take inspiration from this.

Heaross found Twilight's door next where he found himself and Twilight in a rather compromising position. Even though it was strange seeing himself in that light, Heaross was rather intrigued. I wish I was that flexible... Wait is that Valencia's... OH MY GOD NEXT DREAM

Blushing heavily now, Heaross continued onto Fluttershy, where he found, instead of something exceedingly raunchy, a simple tea party with all of their friends, and some other ponies that he hadn't met. At least Fluttershy is relatively normal. Though I'm not sure if I'm a good judge, considering my daily life.

Heaross found Pinkie's door next, but decided not to enter. As much as he would love to find out the inner workings of her mind, Heaross rather enjoyed being sane, even if it was at the price of not finding out who's screams were behind the door.

Moving on, he found Celestia's door, where the warrior found something a bit more disturbing. Instead of seeing something like a land entirely of cake, or subjects praising her, Heaross found Celestia watching events fold out from her past, no doubt the ones where Luna had turned into Nightmare Moon and was subsequently banished to the moon. As the Dream Celestia was doing battle, the real Celestia was on the ground, crying.

Instead of rushing to comfort the sobbing princess, Heaross simply took a seat to her side and watched the events unfold, all the way until the Dream Celestia took the Elements of Harmony and blasted Nightmare Moon to the moon, trapping her for what would be 1000 years. Knowing the pain of losing a loved one, Heaross used his own control over the mind to change Celestia's Dreamscape to a flourishing meadow, full of blooming flowers and growing trees. Letting her sob for a few minutes, the Guardian took a flower from its stem, smelled it, and threw it to pick another until he had found just the right scent. Ah, that's the one. Smells just like her too...

Taking the beautiful flower, which he learned was called Dragon's Tongue, Heaross placed the bell along Celestia's flowing mane, along her ear. Just sniffling now, Celestia took a look around, confused to see a vibrant garden instead of the stone castle that had been hers and Luna's. "You remind me so much of her." Surprised to find another there, Celestia looked around until she found the source of the voice, confused to see Heaross, and not her sister.

Sniffling, Celestia took a seated position facing Heaross, "I'm sorry, remind you of who?" Celestia curiously asked.

Heaross had a very aged and crestfallen expression. "My sister, Aytheri. You are so much like her. The way she never let anyone know that she wasn't always happy, or how she always put on a tough exterior for those that need it, or even simply her laugh. When you laugh, I can't help but see her in you."

Giving a small chuckle, Celestia replied, "Well, wherever she is, I hope that she is proud of you. If she's anything like you, I would guess that she very much enjoys her brother."

Heaross didn't let his tears fall, too determined to not get obstructed in his past. "Yeah, I certainly hope she does. Her and Dekio were always looking up to me."

"Dekio?" Celestia had heard this name, but never questioned its importance.

"Yeah, my brother. Dekio and Aytheri were twins. I miss them dearly."

Celestia chuckled again, "Well, you have friends here too, so you don't quite have to worry about being lonely."

Just as Heaross was about to reply, everything around him went dark and Celestia appeared to be surprised by something. As he tried to regain control of the Dreamscape, it occurred to him: He wasn't losing control, the realm was shutting down on itself.

Heaross awoke in his bed moments later, finding the time to still be night. Acting quickly, he used a spell to call his armor on, and rushed to Celestia's personal quarters. Barreling past many guards, and even crashing into a few, he eventually made it the room, set at the second highest tower. Bursting open the doors, Heaross was met with a struggling Celestia being pulled underground by thick, spiky vines. They had gagged her, making it impossible for her to sound any alarm to her guards outside. Just as the vines were about to seal the hole around Celestia's horn, Heaross reached in quickly and grasped at the vines surrounding the princess, pulling with all of his might. Instead of pulling Celestia out of the hole, he was met with strong resistance, and found himself being pressured to keep her from getting plant-napped.

Deciding now was the time, Heaross let his full strength loose, roughly grabbing onto the vines surrounding Celestia's barrel, and heaved. Slowly, ever so slowly, the princess started rising again, coming out of the ground. Pulling for what had to have been more than 10 minutes, Heaross managed to fully surface Celestia, still wrapped in vines trying bring her down. Quickly swinging the Blade of Awe, Heaross cut all of the vines off, taking care not to strike the alicorn. In response, the vines retracted from the awesome sword, steaming at the potent magic it wielded. "Never in my life have I met a plant that strong. And I have seen plants large enough to destroy cities." Heaross was panting, tired from exerting himself fully.

Celestia was shaking, covered in many cuts and bruises from the vines and Heaross' close rescue. As she was catching her breath, a startling thought took her mind. "Heaross! If they went after me, do you think they might go after Luna as well?"

Fear gripping his mind, Heaross' thoughts raced. Dammit, Luna could be in danger, and if she is, then Twilight might be as well. Why did my day have to start out like this... Acting quickly, Heaross opened a separate pocket of his Petverse, calling out, "Dekio! Aytheri! Come here! There you are, there's my little nerfkittens." Grabbing the 2 small, adorable blue cats, Heaross lifted them to his cheeks and let them lick him. "There you are! There's some good creatures of death! Okay, Dekio, Aytheri, I have something I need you two to do, okay? I want you to follow Celestia here, the tall white pony, and make sure that nothing comes to harm her, or anybody around her. I'll meet back up with you 3 at another room, where a smaller, purple one of her is, okay? I want you 2 to be on the lookout for this," holding up a cutting of the vine that had come off of Celestia, "it's a vine that attacked her, and might attack other people like her too. Can you do all of that for me?" The nerfkitten pair nuzzled Heaross then, showing their understanding. "Good nerfkittens! I'll have some treats for you when I meet back up with you, okay? Now follow Celestia!"

Said alicorn was very confused, both at why Heaross was making orders, and why he had assigned 2 small kittens to be her 'protectors' when she could defend herself. "Heaross, I'm not sure what a couple of tiny kits could do to protect me."

"If you want to remain alive, do not insult those two, do not attempt to harm them, and do not get in their way. Even if I was forced to, there is no way I could kill them single-handedly. They will protect you at all costs, and will escort you to Twilight's room. I will go to Luna's room, and escort her from there to Twilight's room as well."

Not taking no for an answer, Heaross used a spell to switch from his Ultra Guardian Armor to the Twilight's Mantle easily, and used the shadow flight to go to Luna's tower, where he found the mare trying to escape from the vines attacking her. Using the shadows, Heaross cut the vines at the stems coming from the ground, where they retreated and thrashed the ground for minutes after. Luna decided to not ask questions and followed Heaross to Twilight's room. As they ran, Heaross switched his armor back to the Ultra Guardian Armor, and explained the situation to Luna, who didn't ask questions until they reached Heaross' liege's room. Inside they found Celestia, Twilight, and Heaross' nerfkittens safe and sound, if rather spooked.

"Dekio, Aytheri! Come here you 2, there you are, there's some good kittens! I promised you a treat didn't I?" Aytheri burped up a black spiky vine then. "It appears someone might have already had a treat... Celestia, were they good?"


"I'll take that as a yes. You two deserve a little reward!" Pulling out a couple rats, and setting down the nerfkittens, "Here you two go! Catch it!" Heaross then threw the rats into the air, which was responded by Dekio and Aytheri jumping several feet to snatch the snacks out of the air. The rats were eaten in single gulps, and the cats went to nuzzle Heaross. "Good kittens! Okay, now I need you to go back in the portal alright? I'll come in a bit okay?" Soft mewls showed acceptance. "Good. Okay you two, I love you! I'll see you in a bit." Opening the portal, Dekio and Aytheri obediently walked in, Heaross shutting the portal moments later. "I swear... I raised those 2 from birth, yet I still can't get over my fear of them. Dealing with nerfkittens is never easy."

Twilight spoke up at that point, making her inquiries known, "I'm sorry, but nopony has told me anything of what's happening. Is there a situation at hand?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Heaross responded, "Luna and Celestia have just almost been kidnapped by thick spiky vines erupting from the ground. I was made aware of the situation when Celestia's Dreamscape started shutting down. I ran to her room and found the vines attempting to 'plant-nap' her, as it were."

Twilight face-hooved then. "I haven't even been a princess for a week... Is there anything else out of the ordinary?"

"Just the fact that the vines managed to climb through the entirety of the castle without being noticed by anyone, and reached to Celestia and Luna's private quarters. If it weren't for the danger these vines show, I would recommend a test of the castle's structural integrity. Vines that thick, and that many would inevitably cause some foundation and structure damage." Referring back to the situation at hand, "Let's worry about that later. For now, Twilight, what would you recommend doing?"

Twilight was understandably stunned. Why would Heaross want her to start giving orders? Just go with it, Twilight. Figure out his games later. "Umm, let's start by getting the Princess' to safety, then figuring out where the vines are coming from. We can fix the problem at the source."

Heaross was glad to see her able to reason, but she had forgotten a possibility. "Twilight, what if this isn't only affecting Canterlot?"

Twilight rolled with the punches, despite realizing she forgot that important aspect. "Then we find any towns or residences affected, and mitigate the situation there. We focus our resources on ending this at the source though."

Heaross smiled, relieved to find that Twilight wasn't incompetent in giving good orders. "Excellent, Twilight. Remember to consider the possibilities of what a situation may contain. Play the 'what-if' game to see if you forgot anything. For now, how would you recommend we follow these orders?"

Celestia spoke up then, rather peeved at being ignored, "Shouldn't I be the one in charge? Twilight is just learning how to be a ruler."

"This is actually good training for Twilight." Heaross responded easily, "By having her be in charge of an emergency situation, she can learn quick thinking in a stressful environment and quick reactions to sudden changes. Think of it as lessons for being a ruler."

Celestia was momentarily stunned, not realizing that Heaross had a motive behind his actions. If he asked someone else for advice, it was because he had a thought going and needed that person to perfect it. "I... hadn't thought of that. You're right, we should focus on training Twilight."

"Glad to see you find things my way." Turning his attention back to the purple alicorn, "Okay Twilight. What do we do now?"

Twilight was silent for a moment, pondering her options. Finally, she chose, "Currently, we're the 4 most powerful beings in Equestria." Heaross gave a small chuckle. "We might be able to draw the vine's attention by staying close. I'd bet that those vines emit some kind of magic trace, so if we can follow it, we might be able to find the source of this all. For now, let's head to Ponyville and gather my friends. We may need the Elements."

Heaross nodded, "Smart plan," to the 2 bigger alicorns, "Celestia, Luna, can you teleport us directly there? Time is of the essence."

"We can," Celestia confirmed, "everypony gather closely." As Heaross and Twilight moved closer, Celestia's horn started to glow. In a blinding flash of light, the 4 were instantly transported to Ponyville, where the situation hadn't reached ears, considering the time of night.

"Okay," Heaross started, "let's split up and gather the other 5. I'll go and get Fluttershy and Applejack."

Twilight responded, "I'll get Rainbow Dash."

Celestia then, "Then I will get Rarity."

"And that leaves me with Pinkie Pie." Luna finished.

"Then let's meet back at Town Hall in 10 minutes." Twilight ordered. As they all split, going for the necessary mares, each had their own thoughts. Twilight thought, Heaross might not have made the smartest decision in letting me lead this... That human is SO going to pay later... Especially for waking me up. That was a good dream... Twilight blushed then.

Heaross sneezed as he was running towards Fluttershy's. Where could the vines possibly be coming from? And how could they be so strong? When I get back, I'll ask Luna and Celestia if they know anything about the vines and where to learn more of them. Why do I have a feeling that it has something to do with their old castle?

Celestia was flying towards Rainbow Dash's cloud house when she had the thought, Heaross better know what he's doing. We'll check the old castle first, checking the library and the Tree of Harmony underneath, then we'll find Discord and question him. Wait, does Heaross know about Discord?

Luna was racing towards Sugarcube Corner, when, First, I meet Heaross in the Dream Realm. Then, I almost get kidnapped by plants! What's next, the Tree of Harmony being attacked?!

Each of the 4 gathered their respective charges and raced towards Town Hall. Twilight took the time to explain to her friends what's going on, while Celestia, Luna, and Heaross made plans of their next course of action. Just as Twilight finished story time, the other 3 came to the decision to check on the old castle.

Heaross informed Twilight of their next move, but Twilight interjected, "Shouldn't we get the Elements first? We're kinda useless without them."

"That's... A very good point, Twilight," Heaross admitted. "We should get those. They're in the Library, right?" Twilight nodded. "Alright. I'll be back in a moment." With that, Heaross ran towards the town Library, acquired the Elements of Harmony, and hurried back to the pony group. Heaross also brought out one of his pets, a raven named Twilight, to carry the case containing the mystical artifacts.

Elements in hand (claw), the group of ponies (and human) head towards the Everfree Forest, and the castle contained within. On the way, several perils were found, but most were dealt with by Heaross and his combat expertise. That is, until a Cragodile (as Heaross was told the name of) launched a surprise attack at Twilight. Heaross was quick to act, bringing his sword up to the beast's mouth and blocked it, using his sword's leverage to bash the Cragodile back, and knocked it on the head with his shield. Stunned, the beast withdrew for a moment to prepare another assault, but was met with a blade tip at the snout. Frightened, the beast ran deeper into the swamp, not daring to attack again.

As Heaross was wiping his blade clean of spit, he overheard Applejack talking to Twilight, "Sugar, I don't think that it's safe for you to be here, even with Heaross protecting ya. Ya saw how close that beast came to eating ya!"

To his surprise, the others, aside from Celestia and Luna, who were currently scouting the areas ahead, agreed. Rainbow Dash concurred with, "Yeah, Twilight. If something happens to Celestia and Luna, we need another Princess to take their place. As much as we need to find out what caused those vines to attack, if you got hurt, none of us could live with it."

Twilight had tears in her eyes. Trying to blink them away, "I thought you guys trusted me to help. I'm just in the way here then. Fine, I know when I'm not wanted." Twilight would have run off then, if it wasn't for Heaross scooping her up into his arms.

Instead of struggling, Twilight held onto Heaross, wrapping her hooves around his neck. While this confused the other mares, the warrior she was clinging to said, "I swear, sometimes you ponies have absolutely no sense of forethought or empathy. If Twilight left, then what's the point of the Elements of Harmony being here? And if they aren't here, then why are you?" All the mares, aside Twilight, were quite ashamed of themselves then. They didn't think of her role there, they just thought of what they wanted to. "I do understand that while those two traits can be hard to come by, I would have thought that all of you would have more of it."

Applejack was silent for a moment, before going to Heaross, speaking to Twilight, "A'm sorry Twi. Ah wasn't thinking of your feelings or how important you were." Rainbow Dash went and said a similar line, but the feeling was there. At the least, she swallowed her pride and admitted she was wrong.

Heaross nodded his approval, yet Twilight took a moment more to calm down. Despite the fact that she was emotionally fragile, they didn't have time to waste. Thinking slightly evilly, he whispered, "Twilight, do you want to tell them about us? I won't force you, but now does seem a good time."

To his surprise, Twilight nodded. "Yeah, I don't want to have to hide secrets from them."

"Alright, if you want to, look at me." Twilight did, though with a slightly somber look. That changed quickly though, when Heaross surprised her with a kiss. The other Elements looked on in amazement, aside from Pinkie Pie, who was making some sort of cake. The kiss ended after a second, though the effects were felt for minutes. Despite the sudden shock, AJ handed a smiling Rarity a few bits, and so did Rainbow to Fluttershy. "Does that explain everything?" A smirking Heaross said to everypony.

Fluttershy spoke up then, still quietly, "I'm happy for you 2, though isn't there some custom against inter-species dating?"

"Unless there is one here," Heaross answered, "then not that I know of. In my world, dating someone from a different species isn't prohibited in the slightest. Some may think of you as strange, but they cannot legally speak out against you. My friend Warlic, I know that he has dated 4 people who weren't humans."

Rarity looked confused for a bit, asking, "What about how Twilight is a Princess? Wouldn't that make you a Prince?"

Heaross had another answer ready, "Royalty dating non-royalty always causes problems. The problem for me is that a Guardian cannot be royalty. Twilight and I have talked about this for a time, and we've made it official. Even if we were to wed, I would not be considered a Prince. I have papers signed from both of us about this, as much as it does hurt to."

There were a few more questions, "Have you 2 slept together?" "How long has it been?" "How much are you willing to do for each other?" and plenty more. Heaross took it in stride, literally and figuratively, as he started walking when they asked miscellaneous questions. "Yes, but not in that way." "Since the Princess summit." "I'm a Guardian, so literally anything." His fast pace certainly did get the mares the short distance they had left to the castle, where he halted their questions and finally put Twilight down.

When they got to the clearing in front of the castle, Luna and Celestia finally rejoined them. Quite interestingly, Celestia handed Luna about 20 bits. "Sunset still isn't gonna last 3 months." "Oh, she will." Heaross cleared his throat loudly, attracting the attention of the 2 gambling alicorns.

"If you two would mind not betting on whether me and Twilight are dating, we have a bit of an emergency right now." Celestia looked sheepish, but Luna was smirking while they came over. He did a once over of the castle and the surrounding areas with his magic sense, and while the source of the vines was certainly there, he couldn't pinpoint it. "The vine's source is here, but its magic is covering the entire castle and the surrounding areas. We'll have to search everywhere to find it, so let's split up."

"Luna and I will search in the castle," Celestia said, "Rainbow Dash, fly above the castle and search from there. Rarity and Fluttershy, you two search around the back of the castle, Applejack and Pinkie Pie, you search the sides and the woods, while Heaross and Twilight will search the canyon and the outer reaches of the forest."

"If ya find somethin', don't try and fix it by yerself," AJ advised, "get the rest of us so we can tackle it all at once."

With that, everyone broke into their respective positions to search for the cause of the thorny vines. Heaross jumped down into the canyon, throwing up a plume of dust on landing, while Twilight used her wings to glide down much slower. "Remember, use your primaries to change direction, and your secondaries to change your angle!" Heaross shouted to her.

Taking the time, Twilight steered herself to him, landing in his arms. "Thanks for the tips, Heaross." Jumping down, "Where should we go first?"

Heaross did another scan over the castle and areas, "This way, the signal gets stronger over here." The couple moved towards the source, deep in the canyon around the castle. "It shouldn't be too far ahead." True to his word, Heaross and Twilight encountered a cave riddled with the vines that attacked Celestia and Luna.

"Let's go back and get the others," Twilight said, "we'll need the Elements of Harmony, as well as Celestia and Luna would want to know about all this."

"Actually," Heaross interjected, "I have a way to get everyone's attention." Drawing the Blade of Awe, Heaross charged the magic in the blade for a moment, causing it to glow with energy. With a wide flourish, Heaross pointed the tip to the sky, unleashing the magic. "AWE BLAST!" A massive beam of pure mana flowed out of the Blade of Awe, illuminating the night sky and causing a small shock wave to spread out, blasting a few close by trees with heavy force.

Twilight was awed by the sheer force of the Awe Blast, shocking her motionless for a few seconds even after the magic dissipated. Heaross maintained his pose for moments more after the blast ended, then finally dropped it, seeing Twilight staring at him in complete enrapturement. "How- I me- wha- why di-" Twilight took a moment to compose herself, before asking her warrior, "Is there nothing beyond you?!"

Heaross laughed, knowing the effects of seeing the Awe Blast the first time. He picked Twilight up, giving her a small kiss before answering, "There are a great many things I am unable to do. I am unable to create something from nothing, I cannot defy physics themselves, and even I cannot cheat Death when he comes to collect. The things I can do greatly outnumber the things I cannot, for I am always pushing myself. A lesson for you to learn, is that no matter what you may do, there is always someone stronger, faster, smarter. Always push yourself to do better, even by just a little bit. Run the extra mile, push the extra weight, pull yourself just that one bit farther and say 'I did it.'" Heaross gave another kiss, this time with just a bit more passion. "I know I certainly did."

Twilight had a few tears in her eyes, smiling greatly. "I will, Heaross. Can you make a promise to me though?"

"Was is it?"

"Teach me to be like you. I want to be a hero for everypony who needs one." Twilight's morals certainly weren't in question.

Heaross thought for a moment before finally, "No."

Twilight was quite understandably taken aback. "No? Why?"

Heaross smiled then. "Because I'm going to teach you to be you. I am me, and there is no one like me, just as there is no pony like you. I can teach you what I know, but that doesn't mean you're going to be me. I don't want you to anyways, I want you to be you."

Twilight had more tears in her eyes, before kissing Heaross quite fervently. A promise was made, and an oath was kept. Also, 7 ponies got quite a view of a human and a pony kissing. Hearing a wolf whistle, Heaross threw up a rude gesture at the onlookers before moving the hand back to its original position.

Celestia called out, "Encore, please!" Luna concurred, as did the other 5 who were going to tease Twilight later. A few minutes later, and a ton of laughter too, the 7 onlookers were calmed down enough to be serious. "What was that giant beam of magic?" Celestia asked.

"Just something to get your attention." Heaross answered jovially. "The reason why I did it is because we found the source. It's in this cave." True to his word, the ponies found a vine filled cave strangling some crystal tree.

"The... the Tree of Harmony..." Celestia breathed out.

"So this is what powers the Elements?" Heaross inquired.

"Yes, Heaross." Luna answered. "How did this happen? What vines could do something like this?" Realizing Heaross didn't know much about the ancient growth, "The Tree of Harmony is where the Elements of Harmony came from. They are what give the Elements their power, as well as providing the land with magic and peace."

"So don't hurt the tree." Heaross inferred. "Give me 5 minutes."

5 minutes later, the cave floor was a maze of cut vines and thorns. A weird, foul-smelling sap also formed in the vines, leaving puddles of ooze on the ground. The Tree of Harmony also was free of vines, and was glowing slightly. Heaross stepped away from the cave, covered in ooze. "I need a shower..."

"When we get back to Ponyville, you're getting more than that, mister." Twilight warned him.

"Should I be worried or excited?" Heaross joked.


Castle Crashers

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This entire past week has been very hectic, though not so much more than a normal week in Battleon, Thought Guardian Heaross as he walked among the castle halls of Canterlot. I will admit that my time so far has been quite enjoyable, but I do wonder when I can return home. Ah well, at the least, I can take a break from my Grandmaster duties for now. Not being attacked every single day certainly is a welcome change. Taking comfort in that he could finally relax, Heaross continued his stroll, pondering trivial matters for another hour.

Just as he was about to set course for his room to take a brief respite, Heaross happened upon the Throne Room, where Celestia was conducting Day Court. Deciding to see if whether Twilight or anyone else he knew were there, Heaross took a peek into the room, past the long line of petitioners. He saw Celestia on her throne, conducting business as usual, guards flanking around the room. Smart positions, if they weren't so under-trained. Continuing looking, he found a few other scribes and royals that he knew of around the room in various positions.

Heaross also found Twilight looking rather bored in a throne near Celestia's. Deciding to play a prank he occasionally did back in Battleon, Heaross strode into the room, full of confidence. He made his way directly towards Twilight, where she hadn't even noticed him until he had picked her up, sat down with his legs and torso hanging over the arms of the throne, placed her down on his chest, and fell asleep.

The room was deathly silent, all attention being dragged towards Twilight and the napping Heaross. That is, until Celestia started chuckling, which grew into full blown laughter, caught in hysterics at Heaross' antics. Twilight's blush certainly didn't help matters, either.

Heaross woke up around two hours later, still in Twilight's throne, where said throne owner was asleep on Heaross. Ponies were remarkably like cats, they even had similar sleeping positions. Taking a look around the court room revealed that Day Court was still in session, and if Celestia's yawns were any indicator, about to end. Heaross stayed still in the throne for another hour, listening in on the petitioners and other inconsequential matters.

He noticed several things wrong with the court system, like how several different ponies came to discuss the same topic over and over, while only a few matters were of even any real importance that the crown needed to handle. Or how a few court cases had such little evidence or facts that Heaross was very tempted to interrupt a few just to point out some key features. He let them slide over, but with full intentions to speak with the ruler about this flawed system.

An hour passed, and court finally came to an end. Bidding the guards out of the room, Celestia took a heavy sigh, rubbing her eyes. Oh, how she wished that court wasn't such a bore. Taking a moment to attempt to clear her head, she turned towards Twilight's throne where Heaross was still laying. She hadn't noticed before, but Twilight herself had apparently fallen asleep on Heaross, as he had under her earlier. Oh, how those two are so amusing. I do wish somepony was special to me like that... Ah, no use dwelling over spilt milk. Celestia was very surprised then when Heaross spake.

As if Heaross could read how tired Celestia was, "Your system of court is extremely inefficient, Celestia. Many different ponies come in with the same problem, sometimes back to back, while some problems simply lack evidence or even a basis for them." Heaross sat up, taking care to not wake Twilight. "You need to refine it. The first thing to do is have your guards, who aren't even doing anything, to go through the various petitions, and sort different problems into certain groups which can then be handled all at one time."

Heaross started slowly stroking Twilight's mane, which caused her to unconsciously nuzzle Heaross. "Many ponies who came here were just reeking of deception. If there is one, a lie detecting spell would very easily root out many corrupt officials seeking to only further themselves. There is no low for some." Continuing to pet Twilight, Heaross moved to his final piece of advice. "A few of the petitions that came in were absolutely pointless. Nopony needs a statue of themselves in the middle of town. As a small requirement to be accepted for an audience, a sheet explaining the premise and goal of a petitioner should be handed to a guard which is then handed to you. You can be the judge on whether something is worth an audience or not."

Heaross let his advice sink for a moment, giving Celestia ample time to consider if he was correct. After a moment of reflection, she realized that he was right. Court would be much less boring and pointless if the petitions were actually important, and there would be more time when court ended for her to spend as she wished. Taking a quill and paper, Celestia asked, "Could you repeat all that for me?"

Heaross laughed, then repeated his advice. Once Celestia had written all of it down on the paper, she asked him, "Why hadn't I thought of this years ago?"

Heaross answered, "Sometimes, it simply takes another perspective to find a better conclusion. That, and it's the system we Guardians use when we hold court. Quite effective, and it has been through several different generations of Grandmasters, so it has been tested many times."

"I'll say..." Celestia muttered under her breath.

Setting Twilight into her bed, Heaross proceeded to get ready for sleep as well. Using the same spell that allows him to call his armor on, he called it off, replacing it with some light workout gear. As he was halfway through his nightly calisthenic routine, Twilight awoke.

Spying the warrior performing his workout, Twilight was comfortable watching Heaross' muscles tense and untense as he pushed his strength to his norm. She noted that he did pushups, sit-ups, and a few other exercises that she did not know the name of. As she had woken up partway through, Twilight had doubts this was all he did, even though the bit she had seen seemed quite strenuous.

Heaross continued his routine, ignoring the fact he had a private audience. He finished his set of sit-ups, continued through his crunches, and the alternating pushups. Looking around for a suitable edge to hang off of, Heaross couldn't quite find one. Without even looking at her, "Twilight, could you make a ledge I can hang off and pull up to?"

Twilight was flustered for a moment before answering, "Ye-yeah Heaross." Focusing, Twilight made a magic edge that should support Heaross' weight for an extended period. The ledge was placed about a foot from the wall, allowing ample room for him to do his set. It was also glowing purple, allowing him to see what he was grabbing.

Heaross tested the ledge for a moment, finding the magic warm to touch. Rubbing his hands for a moment, Heaross grabbed it and started his set of pull-ups. Speaking as if he wasn't pulling 210 pounds with each tensing of his arm, "Thank you, Twilight. Tell me if you get too tired to maintain it, so I don't end up hurting you." Twilight made a noise of approval, which Heaross took as confirmation. He did his normal set of 100 before finishing, which normally marked the end of his routine.

As the Guardian started stretching in an attempt to wear his energy down, Twilight started a conversation with him. "If you don't mind me asking Heaross, how strong are you?"

"I don't mind at all Twilight." Heaross thought for a moment before answering, "I'm certainly stronger than any earth pony or royal guard you've ever met. If you want numbers, my normal weight lifting amount starts at around 200 pounds, before I start adding more and more until I can't push any more. I had a bar that could lift up to 800 pounds, and I certainly got my gold in weight with it."

"What happened to it?"

"It broke. I kept pushing my limits further and further, until it couldn't withstand the weight I put it on. I had to commission a new bar from Yulgar and Warlic to match and push my capabilities. It can withstand weights up to about 3,500 pounds."

"How much can you lift now?" inquired Twilight.

"The last time I pushed myself farther, I lifted... I think it was somewhere close to 1,700 pounds. I'll be satisfied when I can lift 2,000 evenly."

Twilight gawked, astounded at how he could somehow lift over 3 times the record for Equestrian weight lifting. Wherever he came from, it must be lethally dangerous if he needed to lift that much. "Should I be scared?"

"Well, I'm not showing off, if that's what you're asking." Heaross smirked at Twilight, before casting the spell to change his clothes to something more sleep suited.

Before he could go to the washroom to clean himself off, Twilight interrupted by, "Hey Heaross, would you mind coming with me to the old castle in the Everfree? I meant to go earlier, but you sort of lulled me to sleep earlier."

Heaross gave a small chuckle, before answering, "Sure, Twilight. Do you want to leave now, or later?"

"When you're ready is fine."

One spell later, "Ready."

Twilight gave a small laugh before preparing a teleport spell to get both her and him to the castle of the sisters. Unleashing it, Heaross found himself in the small clearing before the entrance to the castle. "So, what exactly did you need from here, Twilight?"

"I had some theories on magic, and the information I need is in the library here." Twilight easily responded. "It's mostly just some proofing I need, but Luna did say that she and Celestia did quite a few experiments in their time here."


"Yes, Heaross?"

"Drakel Magiscience." Heaross strode towards the castle.

Twilight was stunned for a moment, realizing that Heaross still had that massive tome in his portal. Twilight ran after him, shouting, "Heaross! Hold on!"

Twilight was studying some of the Drakel's experiments, fascinated by their tech and how advanced the civilization was. Heaross was in the next room, using the wide open space of the library to practice some of his sword techniques. Finishing off a particularly flashy swing, he sheathed the Blade of Awe, going to check on Twilight's progress with the gigantic book.

Heaross came into the room, seeing Twilight a fair distance through the gargantuan book. As he was about to inquire of her progress, a massive pipe organ note played through the castle, making a few smaller items start to rumble, including Twilight. The note ended just as quickly as it started. After making sure that nothing was broke, Heaross guessed, "Pinkie?"

Twilight responded, "Pinkie."

Heaross sighed, followed by, "Pinkie... I'll go and get her. Bet you 10 bits the others are here too."

Twilight cockily said, "I'll take that bet."

Smirking, Heaross set off to find the 5 mares who would no doubt be causing trouble in the castle. First on his list was Pinkie Pie, who had possibly played the pipe organ that caused the castle to reverberate. Moving towards the southern end of the stone palace, where the note echoed from, Heaross payed attention to his surroundings, wary of traps.

Thankful for his Guardian training, Heaross noticed several older style traps unladen of magic. Sidestepping a pressure plate, the warrior noticed a small white fur ball in the shape of a rabbit. Moving slowly and quietly to not startle the creature, Heaross inched closer to the rabbit, noticing a few details about him that were similar to some that Fluttershy had told him of her rabbit, Angel Bunny. Rainbow Dash spoke harshly of the rabbit, saying how he was extremely rude and demanding to Fluttershy and her friends.

Carefully picking up the small bunny, Heaross asked it, "I see someone is lost. You wouldn't happen to be Angel Bunny, would you?" He was surprised then when the rabbit nodded before giving Heaross a very dirty look. "Well, I suppose Fluttershy is here too. Come on, we'll find her." He set Angel Bunny on his shoulder, but received a swift rabbit kick to the cheek. Aiming his wrist at the temper tantrum, Heaross shot the spikes on his gauntlet towards him, stopping just short of Angel's eye. "Don't think I'm like the others, rabbit. I've trained dragons who would eat you without a second thought." He retracted the long spikes, saying, "Next time, they won't stop." Angel almost fell off of Heaross' shoulder plate.

As the Guardian continued on his way, he kept an eye out for the other 5. Angel Bunny was a clear indicator Fluttershy was there, and considering she has an extreme fear of the Everfree, one of the others had to have come here with her. While Heaross continued to the south end of the castle, he heard a few loud screams of fear, possibly coming from Rainbow Dash and Applejack. Chuckling, he set off towards them, intent on gaining 10 bits.

As he peeked around a corner, Heaross almost received a very hard smack to the face by a fleeing Rainbow Dash, and almost had his foot crushed by a stomping Applejack, if he wasn't wearing armor. As it was, he managed to grab both of them by the catlike nerve at the spine he had found, effectively putting an end to their panicked run. After holding them for a moment, and checking the hallway they came from, Heaross set both of them down, asking what had happened. From what he was able to gather, the 2 were having a contest to see who was more fearless, ending up in both of them spending the night in the castle.

Giving an amused sigh, Heaross let Rainbow and AJ know of his and Twilight's presence there, and informed them to go to the library, where everyone was going to gather. He also told them that he might join their little competition, if things went well. With a small amount of reluctance, the 2 mares headed off in the direction of the castle library, intent on letting Twilight know they were there, while Heaross continued towards Pinkie.

Barely even 5 minutes of walking later, and he heard another scream, this time sounding from what appeared to be Fluttershy. As Angel Bunny held on tightly, Heaross sped towards the source of the scream, reaching where he heard her. To his complete surprise, he found her attempting to lift a rather massive marble pillar that Heaross himself would have trouble trying to heave. Fluttershy was a complete wreck, her disheveled mane and tear stained eyes showing how scared she was for... Angel Bunny?

From what he could gather, Fluttershy thought she saw the pillar fall on Angel, trapping him under it, despite the fact that Angel would be a pancake if that did happen. Setting aforementioned rabbit down on the pillar, where Fluttershy still hadn't noticed either of them, Angel tapped on her shoulder, eliciting a rather amusing response of, "Not now, Angel, I'm trying to save Angel!" A moment later, and understanding dawned on her face, causing Heaross to laugh heartily. "Angel! You're safe, I thought you were crushed, oh where were you, I am never-"

"Fluttershy!" Heaross loudly said, still chuckling a little. "He was with me. I found Angel near a trapdoor, and took him to find you."

"Oh... Sorry for the trouble, Heaross."

"It was no problem, Fluttershy." He responded. "If I may, can I ask why you're here?"

"Oh, Rarity was wanting some help. She wanted to get some old tapestries to restore them and make a new line."

"That does sound like her... In any case, Twilight and I came here for some research. She's in the library right now, head there and I'll come back soon enough."

"Alright, Heaross." Fluttershy agreed. "If I find Rarity on the way, I'll tell her to come to the library too."

"Thanks Fluttershy." Just then, another huge pipe organ note played through the castle, reverberating through the castle, and shifting some of the traps found around them, including a revolving wall. Behind said wall, was a white mare with purple hair and tail, carrying a large tapestry that managed to somehow blind her. "Speak of the devil..." Stopping Rarity from bumping into any walls or other surfaces, Heaross grabbed the tapestry covering her, unveiling a panicking mare with no idea where she was. After a few minutes taken to calm Rarity down, then explaining some things to her, and another note played, though shorter in length to the previous notes.

"Alright," Heaross started, "I'm going to go get Pinkie. You two head to the library, I'll be back in a few minutes."

"Stay safe, darling!" Called out Rarity.

"Good luck, Heaross!" Called out Fluttershy.

After navigating the maze that was the back end of the castle, Heaross came upon a clearing, in which a hooded figure sat at a large pipe organ, silently playing soft notes. Striding forward, in no small amount of aggravation, Heaross used the spiral carve ability of the Blade of Awe to cut the organ cleanly in half, stopping any note playing that it could do.

Pinkie, after throwing the cloak off, glared at Heaross, now noticing how peeved he looked. Gathering a questioning look, Pinkie Pie asked, "Is there any reason why that was necessary?"

"There is a literal maze leading here, and every single note on that thing you played changed it. I meant to only take 10 minutes at most to find you and bring you here, but that damned maze extended it to an hour. It also controlled several traps and mechanisms throughout the castle, each of which change in function with your playing. Yes, that was very necessary." Heaross had a very unamused look on his face regarding the instrument, though tinged with curiosity.

Pinkie Pie, for her part, looked rather ashamed at the trouble she had caused the warrior. Her mane had somehow deflated a bit, though Heaross was unable to figure out a reason why. "Sorry Heaross," Pinkie apologized, "I didn't know it would cause so much trouble. I didn't even know I could play the organ before this."

Heaross sighed, followed by, "It's fine, Pinkie. Curiosity is the boon and bane of every adventurer, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't caused my own fair share of trouble." Heaross chuckled, "If I had a gold for every arrow trap I accidentally set off, I could buy the Guardian Tower. I should apologize, I lost my temper for a moment there. Sorry about that."

Pinkie's mane somehow reinflated itself, confusing Heaross even more. "Oh, silly billy, you don't have to apologize! Let's just get to wherever everypony else is!"

Shaking his head at Pinkie's antics, "The library is where everyone should be. Let's head there." Pinkie agreed, setting from the now broken pipe organ which had been the cause of much strife for the Guardian.

"Oh, what if he found something he couldn't deal with, or needed magic to do something, or something like-" Twilight's rambling was ended by a hoof to her lips, effectively silencing her tirade.

The hoof turned out to be Rarity's, who said, "Darling, he will be fine. That pipe organ changes the traps and mechanisms of this castle when played, so I have little doubt that he is simply having trouble navigating changing halls." Twilight took a deep breath, and attempted to focused on a spider trying to make a web on the chandelier.

Rainbow Dash, who was currently lounging on said chandelier, added, "Yeah, Twi, he'll be fine. No need to worry, dude could probably take on a hydra and be fine!"

"Well, you aren't wrong," said a masculine voice. Heaross entered the library, Pinkie Pie pronking astride him. "I have taken on many a hydra before."

"Heaross!" Shouted Twilight, voicing her concerns. She then went silent for a moment, realization dawning her for a moment before saying under her breath, "Buck!"

Heaross gave a smug grin, saying, "Guess who owes me 10 bits now?" The others looked rather confused, unsure as to why Twilight now owed him. Explaining, "Twilight and I made a bet of 10 bits. She lost."

Applejack chuckled, patting Twilight on the back while Rainbow Dash was laughing on the chandelier. Remembering, "Hey, didn't you say that you would join AJ and me? Find out who's more fearless?" Asked the cocky pegasus.

"Oh yeah, I did." Answered Heaross. "Follow me then. I have a way to win this."

While AJ and Rainbow Dash followed Heaross out of the room, the rest of the 6 watched on curiously, all except Pinkie who was immensely laughing. When asked, she simply responded, "Just wait a moment." Indeed, a moment later, there was horrified screaming coming from Rainbow and AJ, who in a moment ran back into the room, huddling in a corner. Pinkie just laughed harder while Heaross reentered the room, grinning.

The warrior silently went to the pair huddled in the corner, and whispered, "Boo." AJ and Rainbow almost screamed in terror, bolting from the room. Heaross laughed as hard as Pinkie, and when asked what he did to them, his response was, "All I did was change armor." For some reason, this made Pinkie howl with delight, completely in hysterics now.

After many laughs, AJ and Rainbow returned to the room some time later, still frightened, especially when Heaross grinned at them. They conceded defeat to him, though they wouldn't tell the others why they were so frightened. For some time after, the 7 were simply content to chat and discuss recent events. The apple harvest this season seemed fruitful, more and more animals are coming from the Everfree, and recent experiments are leading to some great advancements.

Rather unfortunately, however, Twilight wasn't content to just let Heaross' tricks get away from her. As time went on, Heaross was becoming more and more annoyed by her insistent pestering. Finally reaching a breaking point for threshold of aggravation, Heaross took a deep breath, exhaled, calming himself, and asked Twilight, "Do you really want to see terror incarnate?"

"Yes." Twilight immediately answered, before she instantly paled at the thought of what she agreed to. Pinkie Pie facehooved, while Rainbow Dash and Applejack bolted from the room. Rarity watched on curiously as Fluttershy cowered, holding Angel Bunny.

"Stand back." Heaross ordered. Then, instead of his normal flash of light and heavy clunk that comes with the spell he uses for switching armor, a darkness covered his form. It obscured him, though light seemed to fade in the growing vortex. When the form shuddered back to Heaross, he was wearing a rather different set of armor. It was filled with a deep mauve color, alongside bone white plates. Several metal pieces adorned the armor, and upon further inspection, the white plates were made of actual bone, skulls, wings, sharpened limbs, and several other unnameable pieces. Upon his head, instead of his normal gray hair, sat a helmet, layered in those purple plates, with a blood red mask covering his eyes and nose. Upon the top of this already terrifying set, sat a long, sharp horn, taken from something far larger than Heaross. "Feel fear itself." His voice seemed deepened, carrying an aura of death and nightmares.

Twilight felt faint just looking upon the armor, as if it commanded a presence of pure terror. She was completely terrified, for lack of a better word. That is, until a spider fell onto Heaross plate mask, shocking him into inaction. The next sensation she felt was glass flying everywhere, and a horrified scream going out the window. The spider fell on the ground, dazed.

Welcome to Ponyville

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"Element of Magic?"


"Hygiene supplies?"


"Archive tomes?"

"They are... Yes, right here!" Twilight held up a small bag carrying a few tomes taken from the royal archives. They were on lend, so Heaross and her had to take care of them.

"That's the last item on the list." Heaross concluded. "I have everything back in the Petverse, and I already checked everything there. We should be all set now. Let's head to the throne room and say our farewells to Celestia and Luna."

Twilight gathered her things in her telekinesis, while Heaross strapped his sword and shield to his back. Finally ready, they set to the throne room, where Luna and Celestia sat, not having to deal with court for once. The alicorns greeted their friends warmly, Celestia continuing by, "My friends, it has been pleasant to have you here. I wish you safe travels and good fortunes."

Luna said her piece by, "Are you certain you can't stay any longer?"

"Unfortunately, we can't, Luna. I'm fairly certain Twilight needs to get back to Ponyville, if only for her friends." Heaross replied. "And, well, I'm going to be staying by her side. Someone needs to give her advice for being a princess."

"Yeah," Twilight pressed, "I need to get back to Spike and the others. While he can run the library for a few days, it's been a bit more than that, and I do want to get home in any case."

"Well, Heaross, Twilight," Luna said, "I wish thou fare luck, both in adventures in friendship, and love."

"Thank you, Luna." Heaross said. "Maybe someday soon we can have that spar. Fare luck to you both as well."

"Thanks for everything, princesses." Twilight said. "It's still going to take me some time to get used to being an alicorn, but you both have done more than enough." She ran up to Celestia and gave her a hug, one she returned happily.

"As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news," Heaross started, "We need to leave pretty soon, otherwise we'll miss the train." He had a thoughtful look for a moment though, before suggesting, "Unless you want to make an impression on returning, Twilight?" Heaross looked almost gleeful at the idea.

Twilight, for her part, didn't seem quite as gleeful, but was open to the idea. "What kind of impression do you mean, Heaross?"

Celestia and Luna had the same ecstatic smile Heaross did.

"I think Spike might be jealous!" Twilight yelled over the wind.

"Maybe, we'll have to see!" Heaross yelled back from on Gust.

Heaross had the idea of him and Twilight coming back to Ponyville on dragon-back, Heaross on Gust, while Twilight rode Artix. Artix had taken an immediate liking to Twilight, not showing his territorial dragon nature. Generally, the light dragon normally was competitive, never letting his guard down, even around Heaross. With Twilight, he was playful, almost like a drakeling. It hadn't taken much coaxing to let her ride him. Gust was still the same, stoic wind dragon leader of the dragons Heaross commanded. He almost had to reprimand Artix for playing around too much.

As they reached Ponyville's town center, Heaross told his dragons to dive. At an almost perfect 90 degree angle, Gust and Artix dropped straight towards the ground like raindrops. Over the roaring wind, Heaross yelled for Twilight to hold on tight to Artix. Both dragons landed without slowing down, hitting the ground at enormous speed with enormous force. Huge clouds of dust rose up, obscuring the crowd and dragons. Already, Heaross could hear whispers and the sound of a crowd gathering.

Returning from the force of the landing, both dragons and riders gathered themselves enough to deal with the crowd. With a mighty roar, Gust flapped her wings, blowing the dust away from the area, providing a clear view of the crowd, and the dragons. The air was deathly silent, until Heaross leaned towards Twilight, and whispered, "I think this is the part where you address the crowd and prevent them from panicking." He leaned back, settling onto Gust's back.

Rising herself up, "Um... Hey everypony. I'm back." For some inane reason, the crowd burst into cheers and stomping, reveling in Twilight's return. Gust and Artix grinned in their dragon way, enjoying the attention. Heaross and Twilight disembarked from the dragons, letting them roam for a few minutes. Heaross let Twilight get swept up in the throng of ponies, though he kept an eye on her.

Some of the ponies came up to him and the dragons, curious to meet them. Heaross let them, intent on meeting the denizens of the quaint rural village. Generally, the ponies were pleasant enough, if a little timid around Gust and Artix. Included among them was Lyra, her nonstop grin at Heaross keeping him thoroughly creeped out. Though she didn't approach him, he had a feeling that she would be watching later.

Turning his attention to the pony poking his greave, Heaross saw a much smaller pony in comparison to the others. The evidently male colt had a pinto patterned coat, with a brown mane and curious reddish-brown eyes. Unlike the other ponies, he didn't seem afraid of the dragons or of Heaross. Said Guardian kneeled down to eye level, or as close to eye level as he could get with the small colt, curious in the pony's bravery. They regarded each other with equal idle curiosity, until they both cracked warm smiles.

Chuckling softly, Heaross asked the young pony, "Well, you certainly don't seem frightened, little colt. What is your name?"

"My name is Pipsqueak!" The youngling excitedly answered. "Who are you?" Pipsqueak returned.

My, this colt reminds me of Dekio. Let's hope he doesn't have the same type of magic, though. "My name is Heaross. Might I ask why you don't seem so scared?"

"I've learned from Spike and Princess Luna to not judge ponies when you first see them." Ah, he met Luna? I'll have to ask her about this little colt, he seems like such a good kid.

"That's a smart lesson. Now, where are your parents? We don't want them to get worried."

Pipsqueak pointed to a couple ponies, evidently middle aged. They seemed like kindly adults to Heaross. "They're pretty cool, though they can be really embarrassing sometimes."

"All parents are like that, even mine. Now could you introduce me to them?" Pipsqueak nodded before running over to the pair. Heaross followed, though without Gust or Artix. "Hello," Heaross greeted when he reached Pipsqueak's parents, "You must be Pipsqueak's mother and father. You have a good son."

"Thank you." His father answered. "We try to make sure he can just live life as a kid. Everything else, he teaches himself."

"Well, you certainly have a brilliant son then. He has a good mind and heart. Nurture that." Heaross ruffled Pipsqueak's mane, only serving to make it more unruly.

"We will." His mother replied. "Whenever he isn't getting into huge adventures, he's normally home or at school."

"So almost everyday?" Heaross joked.

"Yes, it would seem that way." His father laughingly replied. "Well, it has been a pleasure to meet you, Mr..."

"Archer. Heaross Archer, at your service."

"Archer." He gestured to himself, "I'm Scholarly Pursuits." Scholarly gestured to his wife, "And this is my wife, Floral Arrangement."

"It's been a pleasure to meet you both." Heaross warmly bid. He looked over to the dragons, and saw Artix basking in the glory of the ponies a bit too much. "I think it's my time to leave for now. Artix appears to be having too much fun."

"Artix?" Floral questioned.

"The bright sand colored dragon there. The gray one is Gust. Artix may be a dragon, but he doesn't need to be worshiped. Wait, why isn't Gust... Oh, for fuck's sake..." Heaross took a deep breath and exhaled it. "I must go now. I will see you 3 later. Fare luck to you all."

"Good luck Heaross!" Pipsqueaked.

Striding towards his dragons, "GUST WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!"

Twilight finally managed to get away from the crowd enough to breath. She sat down at the base of a tree near where they had landed, and looked over to Heaross. He seemed to be berating Gust for something, while Artix shamefully watched. As she watched, Gust seemed to skulk more and more, until her head was almost touching the ground. Curious, Twilight made her way to them, and heard Heaross yelling at Gust. She couldn't make out what he was saying, though he seemed quite angry.

As Twilight finally reached them, Heaross opened the Petverse portal and bid both dragons in. He seemed rather agitated, though she couldn't tell about what. "Um, Heaross? Is everything okay?" Twilight timidly asked.

Heaross took a few breaths to regain control of his anger, though his voice was still rather strained. "One of the reasons I chose Gust and Artix for the flight is because they are a mated pair. They wouldn't fight or compete with each other in the air or on the ground. One thing I did forget though, is that it's Gust's mating season right now."

Twilight gained a small blush as she realized why Heaross was berating her earlier. "So, what did she do?" Twilight asked.

"You don't want to know. Just understand that Artix enjoyed himself." Heaross wasn't blushing, but he did still seem a bit agitated, though not as much as earlier. "I have a rule set for the dragons." The Guardian explained. "Any and all private activities are to remain that way. Don't do anything out of the Petverse. Dragons don't quite understand the concept of shame, so they would be willing to do it practically anywhere." He groaned, putting a hand to his head before saying, "It's honestly much more of a problem than you think. I've lost count of how many dragons came into Battleon during their season and made babies right in the center of town. Twilly will never unsee those images."

Twilight just wanted the subject to change at this point. She didn't want to wake up in the middle of the night and start thinking of Spike doing it in the center of town. Oh right, Spike! He should be at the library! Has Heaross met him yet? He was at the coronation, holding the crown, but I don't think he ever met Heaross personally. Voicing her inquiry, "Heaross, have you met Spike yet?"

"Spike, as in the baby dragon?" At Twilight's nod yes, "I do remember seeing him a few times, though I haven't yet talked to him. Shouldn't he be at the library?"

"As far as I know."

"Isn't he also purple, with a green fan?"

"Yes, why?"

"Because he's right there." Heaross pointed over to crowd of ponies who hadn't dispersed yet, where a small purple drake was among the throng.

"We should probably get him." Twilight said.

"Alright, then." Heaross opened the Petverse again, calling out, "Flare! Come on out!" A large red hawk type of bird flew out of the portal to perch on Heaross' outstretched arm. "There you are. Twilight, this is Flare, my pet Phoenix." The Phoenix clicked his beak a few times, nuzzling Heaross' cheek. "Okay, Flare. See that purple drake in the crowd?" Flare clicked his beak twice, which Twilight took as a yes. "I need you to grab him and bring him over here. Gently, I may add."

Flare clicked his beak a few more times before flapping off towards Spike. In one quick motion Twilight almost didn't catch, Flare managed to grab Spike in his talons before flying off back towards them. The Phoenix set the drake down before returning to his master's arm. Heaross lightly scratched Flare's neck and beak before grabbing a dead mouse out of the pocket around his waist. He twirled the mouse a few times by the tail before launching it sky high, to which Flare took off, quickly grabbing the flying mouse and diving back towards the still open portal. The fire hawk flew into the portal, shouting it's cry, after which Heaross closed the portal. The entire spectacle happened in only a few seconds.

Turning her attention to Spike, who seemed rather unsteady on his feet, Twilight snickered a small bit, seeing his dazed expression. "Spike?" She called out.

"Whuzza... What happened?" Spike drearily asked, to Heaross' amusement.

"You were grabbed by a Phoenix and brought here." Heaross rather obviously explained.

"Philomena?" Spike guessed as he shook off the confusion from being carried through the air.

"Nope." Heaross answered.

"It couldn't have been Peewee, he's too small." Spike guessed again.

"Phoenixes are actually exceedingly strong." Heaross said.

Spike finally managed to clear his eyes and saw Twilight and Heaross standing before him. "Oh, hey guys." Taking another guess, "Do you have a Phoenix?" He asked Heaross.

"Bingo." Twilight answered for him. "Hey Spike." She came up to the drake and gave him a hug, which he excitedly returned. "How did everything go while I was gone?"

"Just fine." Spike replied. "The others came by everyday to make sure the library wasn't on fire, but it still stands."

"Just how much of it still stands?" Heaross cheekily asked.

"About 98 percent of it." Spike didn't seem quite so amused by the joke. "Rainbow Dash broke a window again."

"Of course she would." Twilight complained. "Everything else is good though?"

"Might need to pick up groceries in a few days," Spike answered, "But otherwise, everything's in order, Twilight."

"That's a relief. I can't wait to sleep in my own bed again." Twilight almost had a dreamy look before dispelling it. "That reminds me, we need to pull out the other bed for you, Heaross."

The Guardian in question raised an eyebrow, before asking, "You do realize I can just buy a house, right? Or build one for that matter."

"How would you get the bits or the resources for that?" Twilight curiously asked.

Heaross laughed before answering, "Being a Guardian pays extremely well. Back at my estate, I currently have 200 million gold stored, while I have around 40 million on me, give or take a few thousand." Twilight gawked at him before thinking about conversion rates and possible discrepancies in currency exchange. That is, until Heaross said, "Celestia and I already worked out conversion rates and exchanges in money. The conversion rate is almost one-to-one, meaning I essentially have 40 million bits, if I so choose. I exchanged about 2 million to bits, so I don't think money is a problem."

Twilight was stunned, both at how prepared the warrior is in regards to living in Equestria, and how his world would be like. "Well, l-let's go buy a house then!" Twilight nervously exclaimed.

"Later." Heaross said. "We just got here, and I would like a chance to stretch for a bit. The landing left my armor in a few... Undesirable places." Twilight inwardly cringed at the thought of hard metal grating her that way. "So, where do you two live?"

"The library." Spike said.

"The library? Do you have a separate room you sleep in?" Heaross surprisingly asked.

"Yeah, we also have a nicely sized kitchen to go with it." Twilight answered.

"I suppose that's good then. Even in my world some people who owned shops lived in them." The Guardian looked around the square and at the slowly dispersing crowd. "We should head to the library then. You need to unpack your things, Twilight."

"Right." Twilight responded.

Spike led the way to the library while the trio chatted about various topics. When they reached the library, Heaross noticed it was the same one that he had seen on his initial exploration of Ponyville when he first came to Equestria. He also noticed the door was a bit smaller than he stood. Curious, he asked Twilight, "Are all doors in Ponyville this size?"

"Yeah, most of them are. Why are you asking?"

"Because I'm taller than the door." Heaross immediately started thinking plans up for a house he could build. Spike opened the door, leading the way in while Twilight and a bent Heaross followed behind. Heaross noticed the ceiling was only a few inches taller than he was, and doubled his efforts on house building.

Twilight explored around the library for a couple minutes, checking the books places and the broken window caused by Rainbow Dash. While she was doing this, Spike came up to Heaross and asked him, "Are you and Twilight dating?"

Heaross was stunned for a moment before asking Spike, "Where did you hear that?"

"Rainbow Dash. I mean, if you are it's cool, I just want to know." Spike didn't seem rude, only curious. Even with that fact, Heaross still wasn't quite the happiest person in the world right then.

"Yes, we are dating. If you don't mind, do you know where Rainbow Dash is?"

"As far as I know, she could lounging on a cloud right now."

A sudden knocking at the door let them know that guests had arrived. Heaross opened the door to see 5 mares, the other Elements of Harmony. Speak of the devil... Bidding them a good day, Heaross let them in, but not without grabbing Rainbow by the tail and holding her in the air, and bringing her to Twilight. "Guess who isn't quite as tight lipped as I thought?" Heaross startled Twilight with. The others didn't stop Heaross, if only because they had warned Rainbow to not tell other people, but she did anyway.

"Rainbow Dash, what is he talking about?" Twilight asked the pegasus.

"I don't know!" Rainbow countered.

"Maybe it has something to do with our relationship, Twilight?" Heaross poked Rainbow in the side, making her squirm.

"Did you tell ponies about him and I dating?" Now Twilight was mad, and for good reason.

"Neither of you said to keep it secret!" Said a frightened Rainbow Dash.

"Darling, we warned you against it. It was rather heavily implied they didn't want this to get out." Rarity interjected.

"Yeah, silly, they didn't even tell us at first, and we're their bestest friends ever!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

Twilight heavily sighed, while Heaross poked her again, still holding her by the tail. "Alright," Twilight started, "Who all did you tell about us?"

"Umm... everypony in town?" Dash curled up into a ball as much as she could in the air.

"Hey, Twilight?" Heaross asked.

"Yeah, Heaross?" She responded.

"How mad are you?"

"Completely livid right now."

"Good. I'm feeling the same way."

"What do you propose we do about it?"

"How about if I take a couple feathers off of her wings?"

"Mind if I help pick out a couple?"

"It would be my pleasure."

Rainbow Dash tried to back away from them as much as she could while being held in the air, but it was a fruitless venture. Pinkie Pie had popcorn.

Half an hour later, Rainbow Dash sat on the couch in the library, completely featherless. Spike had already cleaned up the mess caused by the mass molting done by Heaross and Twilight. She would regrow all of them in time, but for now she was flightless.

Heaross and Twilight felt much better, having spent their anger on taking her feathers out. They were also enjoying some tea made by Spike. The silence pervading the air wasn't uncomfortable, but it did feel rather stale.

The silence was broken by Heaross, who finally said, "So, the secret is out."

"Yep." Confirmed Twilight.

"And it's only a matter of time before it reaches everywhere in Equestria, including your parents."

"Yep." Confirmed Twilight.

"And we'll have to deal with it for the weeks to come."

"Yep." Confirmed Twilight.

"If you had to take a guess, who do you think is going to be the first to come knocking?"

"Either my parents, or my brother. Whoever gets here faster." Knock, knock, knock! "Speak of the devil."

Heaross went and opened the door, meeting a gold sword at his throat. Taking it, he bent the sword in half, turning the point on the owner, before handing it back to Shining Armor. "Your brother got here first." He called back to Twilight. "Come on in. Spike just made tea."

Shining Armor and Cadence entered, to which she and Twilight did some weird dance together with a rhyme. Heaross took it in stride, noting how they seemed comfortable around each other. Maybe a childhood experience. Just as Heaross was about to lean back against the wall, he found another sword at his throat. Taking this one too, he bent it as well before handing it back to Shining Armor.

Cadence and Twilight started talking about relationships and how to deal with males, while Heaross just kept bending Shining's swords. When the male unicorn finally ran out, he tried summoning one with magic, to which Heaross just took it and slammed it against a wall. Shining's magic fizzled, before dissipating into a headache. Defeated, he went and laid his head in Cadence's lap, groaning at the pain in his horn. Twilight and Cadence just laughed about it.

"So," Heaross started, "I take it you don't have a problem with us?" He asked Cadence.

"I am the Princess of Love, you know." She countered. "If I didn't support you guys, I'd be a pretty lousy Princess."

"Then Shining is supposed to be the one who doesn't support it?" Twilight asked. Her brother groaned in response.

"I think he made that pretty clear." Heaross said with a small laugh. "I eventually lost count after 20 swords."

"Yeah, the royal armory's swords, too." Cadence poked Shining on the horn, making him moan in pain.

"Gold isn't a very strong material to use for weapons and armor." Heaross spoke. "Generally, my world uses steel for equipment, due to it being much stronger and less valuable." Looking at Shining with a smirk now, "And not so easy to bend in a fight." Cadence laughed at that joke, though she did check the pile of bent swords on the floor. Quite a large pile lay there, practically useless now.

"So, why is Rainbow on the couch, and where are her feathers?" Cadence asked.

"Her feathers are in the trash." Twilight answered. "I'm not sure why she's still here, the others left earlier." She thought of Spike for a moment before adding, "Spike is in the bedroom right now, he's reading a comic book."

"It's because my house isn't on the ground!" Rainbow all but yelled.

"You could have just said that." Heaross replied. "Let me get the Sphinx to help you out." He opened up the Petverse, calling out the Sphinx, to whom he gave some orders to help Rainbow Dash. They left the library together, and when Heaross looked out the window, he saw Rainbow on the back of the Sphinx, not seeming very ecstatic about it. He had a small laugh about it.

"So," Twilight said, "Is there any particular thing we would need to know?" She asked Cadence.

"Not especially." The Princess of Love responded. "Besides some adversity from bigoted idiots about dating other species, I can't think of anything." She had a thoughtful look before saying, "That, and you can't have babies." Twilight was stunned for a moment while Heaross looked away. "Don't look so surprised, Twilight. You know members of separate species can't procreate, and even if you could, the hybrid species wouldn't survive." Cadence gained a small smirk before adding, "That doesn't mean you can't have some fun. Live life, Twilight."

Shining rose his head just long enough to say, "Heaross, if I find you bucking my sister, no alicorn in any world would be able to save you."

Heaross laughed at his statement, before countering, "You'd never even know it happened, Shining." Twilight laughed at that, before Cadence's husband tried to get up and face Heaross, only to find he couldn't move. "Cadence, grab right there. Feel the nerve in the scruff of his neck, and pull up on it." Shining found he could move again, only to lose that privilege again. "Just like that. He can't move now."

"Does it do anything painful to him?"

"Not that I know. It just keeps him immobile."

Cadence had the most evil smile before thanking Heaross for the advice. Shining Armor tried to gulp but couldn't.

Introduction to Ponyville

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The next few weeks passed both quickly and slowly for Heaross. He secured a land permit from Mayor Mare after a discussion and paying a small amount of bits, located only a small ways away from Ponyville. What really drained his wealth was hiring workers and buying supplies to build the house. He mostly had to hire pegasi and unicorns for building, due to his extra height compared to most ponies. The only one even at his size was Celestia, and she was still in Canterlot.

Along with building a new house, Heaross met many more of Ponyville's residents, including the Cake family,

"Hello, dearie!" Mrs. Cake called out from behind the counter when Heaross walked into Sugarcube Corner, which he had heard was Pinkie Pie's place of residence and employment. Taking notice of the strange shape of the newcomer, "Oh, you must be Heaross!" She called out. "I'm Cup Cake. My husband, Carrot Cake is upstairs tending to the twins. Pinkie is over at Rarity's from what I heard." Flashing a warmhearted smile, "Is there anything I can get you dearie?"

"Hello, Mrs. Cake." Heaross greeted. "I'm here due to recommendations from both Twilight and Pinkie. From what I've heard, your cupcakes are to die for. Mind if I test that theory?"

"Sure, dearie. Cupcakes are two bits each." She handed him a cupcake while he paid her a couple bits.

Heaross took a bite of the cupcake, savoring the flavor when he went stock still. Mrs. Cake hadn't noticed and rambled about how Pinkie normally makes the cupcakes, even altering the recipe, while she and her husband bake other things and on and on she went, until she noticed Heaross wasn't speaking, or for that matter even breathing. "Heaross? Dearie, are you alright?"

Heaross broke out of his stupor and turned to the Cake. His eyes spoke of knowledge of the universe and its mechanization. He asked her, "How much?"

"I-I'm sorry, what?"

"How much would it take for you to give me the recipe?"

"I'm sorry, Heaross, I don't quite follow." Mrs. Cake was very confused, especially since Pinkie's cupcakes never caused this much of a reaction from her patrons.

"I don't care the price. I don't care what I have to do. What will it take for me to get the recipe of these cupcakes from you?" Heaross was completely sincere.

"Oh, the recipe isn't for sale."

"Not even for 20 million bits?"

"It wou- say that again?"

"Mrs. Cake, I am willing to make a deal with you and your husband for the recipe of these cupcakes. I will start off with 20 million bits, and I can go even higher if necessary." Heaross had pulled out a pen and grabbed a napkin to write on.

Mrs. Cake was stunned. Of all the offers for her cupcakes, this was the most outrageous, and she couldn't handle it alone. "I'm sorry, let me go get my husband. He won't believe this."

True to her word, when she returned with Mr. Cake, he couldn't believe it either. "20 mi-million?"

"Yes, sir. I can have it delivered in cash or by check, how would you prefer?" Heaross was at a table now, sitting cross-legged.

The Cakes were both speechless. The recipe wasn't even theirs to sell off, but they were being offered 20 million bits in exchange. The pair turned to themselves and came to the unanimous decision of, "We can't." When Heaross asked why, Mrs. Cake responded, "The recipe isn't even ours. Pinkie's the one who made it."

"So, I would have to speak with Pinkie Pie to get the recipe?" At their nods, Heaross threw his pen out the window in anger, causing it to whistle as it flew, before a loud crash sounded of glass breaking. He cursed under his breath, before bidding the Cakes good day. But not without ordering a few more cupcakes.

a unicorn named Vinyl Scratch,

Heaross was wandering the streets at night, trying to nurse away a sleepless night. As he walked, he came across an apparent white unicorn with an electric blue mane and tail, with a cutie mark showing a bridged double eighth-note.

What alarmed Heaross about her was the magical aura she had. It was only reinforced by the blood red eyes and long fangs poking from her cheek as she grinned maliciously at him. A vampire, and one who hasn't fed for some time at that.

Just as she launched at Heaross, he casually raised an arm, which the vampire slammed her head into, just under her horn. In one quick motion, Heaross flipped her over his hand and grabbed the nerve at her spine. Now motionless, she was forced to watch as Heaross studied her, scrutinizing every minute detail he could find.

Reaching for a health potion, Heaross uncorked it before draining it in the vampire's mouth. Seeing her eyes dull to a moderate cerise, he let her down slowly, attempting to appear less intimidating. As the unicorn reached the ground, he released the nerve as she staggered to maintain her balance.

"Ho-how did you-" Her tirade was cut short as Heaross put a finger to her lips and stared her in the eyes. She gasped in surprise before smiling very wide.

"Heaross." He said.

"Vinyl Scratch." She said.

They shared a grin, one full of unspoken promises and kept secrets, before they separated, going different directions.

Vinyl kept her smile all the way home, not for the fact that Heaross had saved her from doing something unspeakable, but because when he locked eyes with her, his eyes flashed a deep, blood red.

3 very adventurous fillies,

Heaross was currently inspecting the build site for his house while reviewing the finances of the construction, when he heard a loud clatter and a few yelps. Fearing a construction accident, he raced over to the peculiar site of three little fillies in the holes of a support beam that had fallen over. On quick inspection, they appeared to be unhurt, if greatly startled. He sighed in relief, glad nopony was hurt.

The three fillies were familiar to him, though he couldn't find out why until the orange filly with a purple mane shakily said, "I guess we're not architects then..." Heaross gasped rather loudly upon realizing who the trio were. The Cutie Mark Crusaders, a group of fillies dedicated to earning their cutie marks through increasingly outlandish ways. The girls had spoken warmly of them, if with a small amount of annoyance due to their... attempts.

The main three of the Crusaders, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, were staring at Heaross with surprise and some guilt. "Sorry, mister." Apple Bloom said.

"We were just trying to get our marks in building things by helping out the construction crew." Sweetie Belle continued.

"Yeah, we're really sorry sir. We can help clean up the mess." Scootaloo said. Interestingly enough, she was cowering under Heaross' gaze the most, almost touching the foundation.

Heaross looked at the trio with some small curiosity before bellowing out a great laugh. He kept the laugh going for close to a full minute before calming down enough to keep a semi-straight face. "Oh, the Cutie Mark Crusaders. I've heard many things about you 3. I am Heaross, Guardian of Battleon, as I'm sure you've heard."

The 3 fillies brightened up at his introduction, not feeling quite so intimidated. "Yeah, the guy who arrived with Twilight on dragons, right?" Scootaloo asked.

"The very same." Heaross gave a warm smile, kneeling down closer to the fillies eye level. "Now, could you 3 tell me why you thought trying to help build a house was a good idea? And for that matter," He looked around for a moment before turning back to the Crusaders, "Where are all my workers? I know it's not their lunch break yet, that's in another hour."

"We maaay have sent them to Sweet Apple Acres for an early lunch..." Apple Bloom shyly answered.

Heaross sighed in disappointment, upset that construction had come to a complete halt because of 3 little kids. "Alright, well, while my workers finish their lunch, you 3 can make up for the difference as punishment." Heaross declared.

Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle all agreed to this without argument. The group of four set to work, continuing the framework and fixing the fallen support beam. When Heaross' workers returned, they were met by a rather peeved Guardian, who demanded an explanation of why they let fillies run rampant over a construction site while the workers went to enjoy an early lunch. Apparently, the explanation of, "You just don't argue with the Crusaders," wasn't quite good enough for Heaross.

The warrior's response to this was, "I hope everyone enjoyed their lunch break, because I'm going to extend it to the rest of the day. Show up bright and early tomorrow, or you're fired."

a zebra shaman,

A/N: I can't rhyme at all, so Zecora won't be rhyming here either. If someone could leave lines for her rhyming, I'd be happy to replace them and credit you for them.

Heaross ventured into the Everfree Forest, planning to explore the rampant region and potentially enjoy a spar with some of the local creatures, though Twilight insisted on coming with him, explaining that the forest grew without pony control and held many dangerous beings inside. Heaross reluctantly agreed to this, though not without his own complaints.

As he and Twilight ventured deeper into the forest, having left Spike in charge of the library while they were gone, Heaross saw many things not quite unlike the forest near Battleon, though with a much darker tinge to everything considering the trees were much more closely packed, blocking the sunlight. As they continued walking, Heaross noticed a strange blue flower, which he paused and bent down to pick up, though holding on Twilight's exclamation of "Stop!"

Still kneeling, "Is there any reason why I shouldn't pick this flower?" Heaross looked at Twilight curiously while asking.

"That's poison joke!" She said, frightened. "If you touch it, it causes strange effects to happen, like becoming tiny, losing your magic, your voice changing, or some other weird thing!"

Heaross looked at the flower with renewed curiosity, inspecting every part of it he could see. Then, he picked one of the flowers, holding it at arm's length. "I would be wary of this flower," He spoke, "If it wasn't for the fact that I wear gloves."

Twilight was dumbfounded, stumped at the possibility of simply wearing gloves to pick up the dangerous plant. "Heaross, could you put into words how stupid I feel right now?"

"Ponies are extremely oblivious and have almost no foresight."

"That is so true, I can't get angry over it." Heaross threw the flower at Twilight, who panicked and caught it with her magic. "We could have used telekinesis to pick them up..."

Heaross was having trouble keeping a straight face at Twilight's realizations. Picking her up, still stunned, Heaross carried her into the patch of poison joke before letting himself fall backwards into it. Pollen and dust flew up around them, covering them in a layer of poison joke and dust. Her shocked expression was answered when Heaross said, "What's life without adventure? Boring, I say." He booped Twilight on the nose.

Twilight sighed, laying her head on Heaross' breastplate. This warrior would be the death of her someday. As she heard hoofsteps coming from somewhere ahead of them, she looked up to see Zecora balefully watching the couple. "Twilight," she said, "Have you not learned your lesson of poison joke?"

Twilight groaned, not feeling up to being scorned by the zebra. As she sat up, she explained, "Zecora, this is Heaross. Heaross, this is Zecora." The two exchanged greetings before Twilight resumed. "Heaross carried me and threw himself onto the poison joke. I warned him," At this, Twilight booped Heaross' nose back, "about what it does."

"I will admit, this is my fault." Heaross said. "Is there a cure for poison joke's symptoms?"

"There is," Zecora explained, "though the ingredients are rare and hard to come by. I do hope you will have learned your lesson, Heaross."

"I can pay for the herbs and ingredients, Zecora." Heaross asked, "Would 200 bits satisfy the needs?"

A couple of hours later, Heaross and Twilight were enjoying a warm bath in the Ponyville Spa, filled with the herbs needed to counteract the effects of poison joke, while Zecora sat nearby on a stool, inspecting Heaross' potions. "Can they heal diseases?" She asked.

"No, drinking a potion would only make the symptoms worse." For once, Heaross was completely armorless in the bath. He had a very rugged physique, even eliciting the humorous response of, "Sweet Faust, you could grind wheat on those," when Twilight saw Heaross' abs. Some scars decorated his torso and legs, adding a very experienced look to Heaross.

Twilight was currently running a hoof over a particularly long one across his chest when she asked, "What happened here, Heaross?" Twilight appeared fairly awed by the injury.

"That," Heaross pointed the scar, "is from when I was a teenager, and exceedingly cocky." Twilight listened with rapt attention. "When I was young, I grew up on a modest farm with my parents and two siblings. As the oldest of the children, I was tasked with keeping pests away from the crops and the house. Generally, they were frogzards and BURPS, though on occasion, something a bit stronger may wander onto the farm. That," he exclaimed, "is when I met Gust, as a baby drake, abandoned by her mother. Well, one day when I was checking the crops and if we would have a good harvest that year, I heard a roar sound out from over the eastern side of the field. When I finally met the source, I happened upon a manticore eating our cabbages. Of course, at the time I didn't even know what a manticore was. Being the cocky teenager I was, I thought that I could fight it and emerge victorious."

Heaross looked away for a moment, embarrassed. "I am sad to say that did not happen. With a huge claw, it tore across my chest, flinging me back. I'm lucky that my father heard the roar from the house and came right when I was flung back, knocking into him on the way. If it wasn't for him, I would be dead and we would have lost the cabbages."

"Wow..." Twilight breathed out. She continued exploring Heaross' body and scars until she found a long, dangly thing situated between his thighs. With a tentative hoof, she started poking and prodding the mysterious appendage, wondering just what it was. Finally, she asked Heaross, "What is this thing?"

Heaross responded, "Twilight, that is my penis."

"Heaross, how many of these potions do you have?" Zecora asked, oblivious to Twilight's growing blush.

and the Apple family.

Heaross walked from Ponyville to Sweet Apple Acres, being led by Applejack along the way. The pair enjoyed pleasant small talk, Applejack going on about how her family has grown apple orchards for generations while Heaross intently listened. At long last, they arrived at the farm. Heaross was quite astounded by the size of the land sectioned purely for growing apples. His family farm certainly wasn't small by any means, but this completely outclassed it.

"Welcome to Sweet Apple Acres, Heaross." Applejack announced.

"This is quite the farmland you have, Applejack." Heaross complimented.

"Yup! All dedicated to growing apples, every single one of the trees." She beamed with pride.

"I admit my favorite variety is the red delicious kind." Eyeing a finely ripened apple hanging off a of a low branch, "Hey Applejack, you wouldn't mind if I tried one of them, would you?"

"Go ahead, partner!" She allowed. "Apple bucking season is about to start anyways, so we'll have plenty to go around."

"Thanks." As he was picking the apple, Heaross asked, "Apple bucking season?"

"Oh, that's when we buck all the apples off the trees. Happens about every 3 months, and if things keep going this way, we're gonna have the greatest harvest in years!" AJ excitedly exclaimed.

"That's certainly good news." Heaross said, before taking a bite of the apple. Heaross almost moaned at the sweetness of the apple, and how it was perfectly ripe. "Wow, AJ, these are fantastic apples! How much would it cost me to get a barrel all to myself?"

"We sell our apples at about a bit per. Come on by when we start selling them in the town market, I'll cut you a deal."


The pair continued towards the farm house, a modest dwelling built into the side of large red barn. Heaross couldn't critique the home, considering the one he grew up in was even smaller. The shade of red was a bit hard on the eyes, though.

"Welcome to the Apple family home, Heaross!" Applejack said. Heaross could see Apple Bloom playing outside of the barn with the other Crusaders. "You've already met Apple Bloom, my little sister. That there's Granny Smith, my grandma." She pointed to the green elder pony watching the Crusaders play. "My brother, Big Mac, is probably in the house right now, taking a nap." Right as she said that, a large red colt walked out of the barn house, stretching his limbs. "Well, there he is in the flesh! Let's go meet them, Heaross." The Guardian followed AJ, raising a hoof in greeting. "Hey, folks! Come on ya'll and meet Equestria's newest visitor!" Applejack shouted to her family.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders ran towards the pair after hearing the farm mare's shout. They crowded around Heaross, climbing and playing on him while he let them, chuckling. Big Mac was helping Granny Smith out of her chair and to AJ and Heaross. As they reached them, the Crusaders finally stopped playing on Heaross and sat intently beside Big Mac and Granny Smith. "Howdy, Heaross. I'm Big Macintosh, Big Mac for short."

"Well howdy, sonny. I'm Granny Smith."

"Hello, Big Mac, Granny Smith. I am Heaross, Guardian of Battleon." The warrior greeted, warmly. "As I've already told Applejack, this is quite the marvelous farm you all have."

"Eeyup." Big Mac agreed.

"Big Mac and I normally take care of the chores for the farm while Granny Smith takes care of cooking and finances." Applejack explained.

"Yup." Granny Smith said. "I make some of the best darn apple fritters you'll ever taste, sonny!"

"They're really good." Apple Bloom spoke up to.

"Well, I'll have to try some of them, won't I?" Heaross jibed. "I grew up on a farm when I was young, actually. Nothing quite as big as this though, I'm actually a little jealous." He said with a chuckle.

"Really?" Asked the Crusaders. "What did you guys farm?"

"Let's see... There were cabbages, carrots, onions, corn," Heaross started, counting on his fingers, "wheat, beets, cucumbers, potatos... I'm certain there were more, but I can't remember them right now." Heaross stroked his chin in thought before shrugging his shoulders. "There were quite a few we farmed, but even all our crops combined couldn't compare to this." He gestured to the huge orchard. "The harvests here must be legendary."

"That they are, sonny." Granny Smith said. "We're the main export of apples to all of Equestria."

Heaross showed an expression of surprise, saying, "That's quite impressive."

The Apple family beamed in pride, reveling in Heaross' praise. "Say sonny," Granny Smith started to ask, "Would you be doing anything later on? We'd love for you to come over for some dinner." Apple Bloom started swarming Heaross' legs, almost like a puppy constantly saying "Please?"

"Well, I'm not doing much later on today. Why not?" Heaross agreed.

After the dinner, which Heaross had decided was absolutely fantastic, instead of heading towards the library, he opened the portal to the Petverse. Stepping in, he made his way past Sunset Shimmer, who was sleeping, and all the other companions for his journeys until he happened upon Gust. Without a word from either, Gust opened up her wing and allowed Heaross in, who changed out of his armor into more sleep oriented clothing. Heaross started to cry while Gust keened softly, a lullaby his mother used to sing. Slowly, Heaross quieted until he was almost to the realm of sleep.

"You know none of them would blame you for what happened." Gust stated in a motherly tone.

"It doesn't help that I still blame myself." Heaross countered.

The weeks passed. Rainbow Dash regrew her feathers, Heaross made more friends and deepened relations he already had, and progress on his house continued until finally, it was finished.

Stepping inside, Heaross welcomed the scent of his new home, provided by a honeydew scented candle. Rarity was right, those drapes do brighten up the room. Stepping past the chimney and the opposite sofa, Heaross continued to explore the house, despite how familiar he already was with it. Past the living room was the kitchen, with a window facing towards Ponyville, currently open. As it turns out, ponies have made some considerable progress with imbuing magic into items, and with those advancements, Heaross had a stove that lit a burner, pipes under the house that ran, heated, and cooled water, and a refrigerator, a new device he hadn't even seen in his world.

Continuing on, Heaross stepped back into the living room to a hallway with four rooms along the length. Two guest bedrooms on one side, the master bedroom and the bathroom beside that. Taking a look into the guest rooms, Heaross took notice of a simple twin bed, a small bedside table with a candle resting a raised stand. There was a window on the opposite wall facing the Everfree Forest, with a bookshelf on the wall aside it. The other guest room was a carbon copy, though mirrored. The bathroom had a simple sink and toilet, custom ordered just so Heaross could use it, and a large tub. Though certainly not modest, Heaross didn't want to extend over boundary lines, so the tub was six feet in all directions. On second thought, it seemed more like a small pool than a tub.

Heaross turned to the master bedroom, his own room of rest. A queen sized canopy bed set at the back end of the room, two large bookshelfs occupying one wall, with a large desk and chair occupying the other. Off to the end of the room sat a large closet, built into the wall and capable of holding more than just clothes.

Heaross returned to the living room, took a deep breath and exhaled in comfort. Then he let his smile fall. By the elements, it's lonely in here!

"Oh, ho ho ho... Someone appears new to my eye... I know everyone here. Everyone, that is, except for you..." A strange creature appeared before Heaross then, a weird beast composed of several others. "Ah, where are my manners! I am Discord, spirit of chaos and disharmony." The strange creature offered a bow to Heaross then.

"Rise, Discord. I've little patience for chaos beings. Explain your reasoning for being here, lest I wrest it from you."

"Please," Discord said in a suave tone, "Hold the hostilities. I come in peace. Fluttershy said I should meet you, that we would be good friends."

Heaross sighed, not quite believing Discord but trusting Fluttershy. "Alright then Discord. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for now. But," Heaross warned, "If I ever see you hurt my friends, I will not hesitate to strike you down."

"May I say the same to you, 'Guardian.'" Discord returned. "In any case, I have something you might be interested in." Discord pulled out a strange spherical object, shaped as a marble would. Inside of the sphere, five separate traces of energy flowed, which Heaross recognized as elemental energies, though not all of them.

"What is it?" Heaross curiously asked.

"Frankly, I'm not sure myself." Discord responded. "I was hoping you had some clue."

"Well, I can recognize five of the eight elements inside of it. Leave it with me, I'll do some experiments with it." Heaross held out his hand, to which Discord dropped the strange orb without complaint.

As Heaross held the glowing multicolored object, a message played in his ears, though without a source. I am the Elementalist, fighter of the just and weak. If you need my help and your intentions are pure, hold the sphere and call for Mike Elemental, telling your need. And if not for support on a fight, then for a talk or a spar. Heaross held the orb for just a moment longer, then heard, If you're holding this sphere 15 seconds after my initial introduction, then here's an extra: I possess the title of Holy Hands. So if you need some stress relief, I can give you a treatment that'll put you in heaven.

Well... That was certainly interesting. Discord had taken notice of the pause and was looking curiously on Heaross. The warrior took notice of how he had been blankly staring the orb for the past 30 seconds. He shook off the effect of the orb, and dismissed Discord from his house.

Heaross returned to the master bedroom and sat at the desk. As he placed the sphere down, he took a pen and wrote down what the orb had said. As he pondered what all the orb had said and what it could entail, Heaross couldn't help but feel excited about a potential rival. One that could match his skills? Of course he felt ecstatic. Choosing to leave the orb for another time, Heaross decided to throw a small housewarming party. Pinkie would know what to have for a good punch...


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The Cutie Mark Crusaders, shepherded by Rainbow Dash, made the small trek from Ponyville to Heaross' house, planning on collecting the Guardian to have some fun and mischief this wonderful Nightmare Night. Princess Luna had already arrived in town and made her way to Heaross' as well, greeting the residents of Ponyville warmly. She hadn't said much when they asked her about what she was doing, just that she and Heaross "had a plan."

The Crusaders made it to the warrior's house and knocked on the door. They waited for a moment but nopony answered. Rainbow Dash knocked a bit harder, almost making the door shake. Then, without source, the door glided open, making no noise on its hinges. The group made their way inside, to which Scootaloo called out in a loud voice, "Hello? Heaross, are you here?" Silence is the only thing that greeted her.

"Maybe he and Luna already left, Scoots." Rainbow Dash advised her adoptive younger sibling.

"Everypony, look!" Apple Bloom shouted to the others. "There's a paper on the couch!"

Rainbow Dash grabbed the paper and held it aloft, reading aloud what it said. "The night of Mogloween, a rider comes out of the forest. Do not speak to him. Do not try to gather his attention. Run. It is the only thing that may save you from him. Pray he doesn't follow you home. Pray he loses interest in the chase. Pray that it's not your head he is after."

Rainbow stopped reading for a moment to gather both her breath and courage. "He is the Headless Horseman, an unknown rider of an age long past. In one hand, he carries a wicked sword, forged of the hellish fires of the Underworld. In the other, he carries the Jack-O'-Lantern, a laughing pumpkin carved to resemble his own skull, alive with his soul, but not his mind. Forever he roams the night, looking for the one who's head he could take to replace his own lost masque."

The Cutie Mark Crusaders and the fearless Element of Loyalty were shaking by this point. None of them wanted to lose their heads. With not even a word said between them, they all left Heaross' house, heading towards Ponyville. Just as they left the house and got a few paces away from it, a haunting, echoing laughter sounded out of the Everfree Forest. None of them would admit it, but rumors say that Rainbow Dash performed a Sonic Rainboom from a standstill then.

Twilight was wandering Ponyville, enjoying Nightmare Night, a wondrous night filled with scares, haunts, candy, and laughing children. Spike sat on her back, munching on a few gems that Heaross had bought him the night before. As the duo made it to town center, Twilight heard a loud boom sound out from the direction of Heaross' residence. As she watched, Rainbow Dash, carrying Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, dashed past her and Spike, buffeting them with her strong headwind. The pair laughed at Heaross' antics.

All night long, she heard the screams of ponies, shouting sayings of "It's the Headless Horseman! Everypony run!" Twilight just laughed when they ran past, as did Spike. Eventually, said "Horseman" came into Ponyville on his wicked mount, a pure black stallion with glowing green eyes, flowing mane, and larger than Celestia herself. Wherever the horse stepped, the ground behind would be completely black, almost like pooled darkness, misting in the cold night.

The rider atop the horse struck a more imposing figure, dressed in navy blue armor plates, borders of a dark tan. A brownish-red cape hung behind him, fluttering slightly in the breeze, while above his neck sat no head, simply a dark abyss glowing green in the moonlight. In his left hand, he carried a Jack-O'-Lantern, cut to show a wicked jagged grin, cackling in madness. In his right hand, hanging low beside his mount, sat a massive blade, glowing red and ornately carved. A screaming skull sat as the centerpiece, with lines of glowing red energy flowing outwards and to the rest of the blade. Several hooks adorned the sides of the blade, designed for ripping and tearing of flesh and armor, leading to a large point at the end of the blade.

Overall, Heaross pulled off the look very nicely, though the sword may be a bit overkill.

Instead of unleashing some form of fear attack around him, the Headless Horseman sat, waiting for something unseen, that is, until Nightmare Moon descended to land in front of him. As the pair faced each other, the laughing lantern slowly quieted until it seemed more like the chuckles of a madman. Without bid from either, the rider descended from his horse, and bowed to Nightmare Moon, sinking to one knee on the grass. Wow, Twilight thought, he must really be getting into the spirit of things. Heaross normally doesn't bow to royalty!

Nightmare Moon, in her 'Traditional Canterlot Voice,' almost shouts out, "Ah, Horseman, one of my most loyal servants. Still without a head I see. No matter, we will find one for you eventually." The Horseman almost tensed up at this part. "Do not fear, my servant. Without my rule for the past thousand years, Equestria hasn't known true fear for quite some time now. Together," At this, the mare nuzzled her head near where his neck would be, "We can fix this... 'problem.'"

Twilight was shocked at how well choreographed the entire scene was. It almost seemed like it all was real. Then it became very real when Heaross and Luna showed up at that moment, looking a bit panicked. "Everybody, evacuate from here!" Heaross shouted, wearing the same armor that the Headless Horseman was.

"This is an emergency!" Luna shouted as well. "Clear the area!"

Twilight, understandably confused, ran over to the pair with Spike hanging on for dear life while the ponies in the area screamed and ran in different directions. "What happened?! I thought this was supposed to be a prank you two orchestrated!"

"It was!" Heaross responded. "Luna was going to cast some illusion magic and make us appear as that." He gestured to Nightmare Moon and the Headless Horseman. "Unfortunately," He looked at Luna, "Someone sneezed and accidentally created copies of us instead of masking us."

"So that means-" Spike started.

"We literally created evil versions of ourselves." Luna finished for the dragon.

Nightmare Moon and the Headless Horseman took notice of the chatting group, and blew a blast of magic into the center of it. Heaross saw her charging the magic blast and rushed forward, taking the blast full on. A small explosion appeared where Heaross stood, smoking the area out. When the smoke cleared, a small crater stood where he did, yet no sign Heaross ever stood there remained.

Twilight had tunnel vision in that moment, only seeing the area where her Guardian once stood. Her vision shifted over to the mare that had caused the explosion and disappearance of Heaross. Everything seemed slowed down, colored in a red tinge. Faintly, she heard Spike yelling in her ear to start moving and get away from the area. She blocked him out. Twilight felt something building in the base of her horn. She let it grow, let her emotions go, let everything she knew of the world go, and only focused on that one moment. Heaross getting hit with a beam of magic fired from Nightmare Moon. It replayed in her mind, over and over, while the sensation in her horn kept building.

Finally, when it seemed as if the feeling couldn't grow any more, Twilight unleashed a scream of rage, a scream of defiance, a scream that reached Nightmare Moon and made her afraid. Guiding whatever magic was flowing through her, Twilight shot the magic beam at the mare, colored in a rainbow of magic, blue, green, red, yellow, purple, a scale of flowing colors shooting directly for Nightmare Moon. Again, in slow motion, Twilight saw Heaross dropping from the sky, sword pointed in a plunge that connected directly through the Mare in the Moon, dissipating whatever magic had caused her creation.

When Heaross looked up, he noticed the rainbow of magic flowing straight towards him, and knew there was no moving away from this blast. Heaross grit his teeth, and took the blast full on in the breastplate, causing a shock wave of pure magic flowing through him. While this wasn't the first time that Heaross had experienced magic structured like that before, it was the strongest spell he had ever felt, and he had seen Warlic cast some pretty intense spells. The blast threw the Guardian through the air and several houses, crashing into many homes and businesses. Finally, he stopped at Sugarcube Corner, breaking the doors down and sliding to lie reclined on the front of the counter. He coughed a bit. Blood came out.

Twilight came down from her fury and stared in horror at what she had done. Whatever magic she had used had hit Heaross directly and threw him so far that there was a straight line through several houses. She saw Sugarcube Corner at the end, though it didn't have a hole in it like the other places. Luna just stared, jaw dropped in awe. Twilight, without thinking, ran and teleported in combination (also completely leaving Spike behind) until she had burst into the confectionery. She saw Heaross, reclined on the front surface of the counter, with a massive dent inwards in his breastplate. Every few seconds or so, he would cough up some blood onto the floor, leaving a small puddle in front of him.

Heaross, in his dazed and wounded world, noticed Twilight in front of him. "Hey," he said weakly, "You're pretty strong. I knew you could take on Celestia or Luna, but wow, I think you broke all of my ribs." He was barely breathing, his chest rattling with every intake of air. Twilight crowded around him, inspecting his injury with tear filled eyes. "I need you to do something for me, alright Twilight?" Heaross asked the alicorn.

"Heaross, no, no, please no! Please don't die!" Twilight stood near the Guardian, though she didn't approach any closer for fear of hurting him.

"Twilight, calm down. I've been hit with worse." This wasn't quite true, the closest he had felt to something like this was the manticore from his teenage years. To be fair, the manticore didn't break his all of his ribs though. With a shaky arm, Heaross managed to open a portal. "Twilight, I need you to go in there, and under the bed you and I stayed in, there's a box." The mare nodded her head, eyes flowing with tears. "Bring it to me, please." Twilight ran in, revealing the same place she had slept with Heaross on that wonderful first night.

She found the bed easily, and thus the box. It was light, though something within it jangled a bit. Rushing back out, Twilight brought it to Heaross. He opened the box with a barely stable hand, revealing two items. One, a long vial, sloshing with a thick red liquid, not unlike his potions, though this one glowed a bit. The other, a small bell that glowed silver in the moonlight. "Twilight," Heaross rasped out, "Unbuckle my armor, and remove it slowly."

Twilight did so, carefully pulling off the large blue plate, revealing a massive amount of blood and some bones poking through his chest. Heaross winced the entire time she removed his breastplate, and whistled upon seeing his mangled chest. "Wow, that hurts." Heaross fumbled with the cork on the vial for a moment before Twilight removed it for him. After giving a thoughtful look at it, he said , "I never thought that I would have to use this." Heaross drained the vial, swallowing it with a grimace. He took the bell and shook it for a moment before setting it back in the box. After mere moments of ingesting the liquid and ringing the bell, Twilight saw his chest writhing with movement, skin patching itself and bone reconnecting. It was a gruesome sight, watching his blood creep back in while tears in the skin fleshed together seamlessly.

After the process had stopped entirely, Heaross gasped greatly, before taking the bell and shaking it much more vigorously than the first time. The ring echoed through the building, filling the alicorn's ears with its chime. After finishing with it, Heaross set the bell back in its case before closing it and setting it off to the side. He removed one of his gloves and patted his chest, feeling how smooth it was, completely scarless. The Guardian sat up a bit straighter, wincing at the movement.

Twilight, after seeing the entire spectacle, finally broke down on the floor, sobbing. Heaross took her by both forelegs, and pulled her onto his now healed chest, where he hugged her tightly. Twilight continued to cry for several more minutes, even when Luna came into the shop, a bit worse for wear, and inspected the scene. The princess just took a seat at a nearby table and waited patiently.

When Twilight had finally calmed down enough to speak in semi-coherent words, she managed to choke out, "I-I'm so sorry, He-Heaross! I j-just lost control, I don't even kn-know what came over me!"

The Guardian held her tighter, humming. "Twilight," he started, his voice low and weak from the ordeal, "I'm fine. You don't have to worry, I'm here and I won't let go of you."

"B-but I-"

"No." Heaross cut her off. "None of that. This isn't your fault. You just did what came to you naturally."

The night went on, and after Twilight was able to come to her senses without sobbing even louder, she quietly asked Heaross, "Do you hate me now?"

"No, I don't." Was his response.

"Why? I ruined your armor and almost killed you..."

"Because, at times, we all revert to instincts." Heaross still hadn't let her go, just hugging her. "Though," he looked at Luna then, "We will be starting lessons for you." Luna nodded at him, though Twilight didn't see it.

"Lessons?" Twilight questioned.

"To learn to control and use that massive amount of magic you have. With all of it at your disposal, you could do much more than what you did to me." When Twilight winced in fear at what she did to him, Heaross said, "Don't be afraid of your power. Learn to control it. If you're frightened by it, just think of Celestia, or Luna, or even... Oh, what's his name, that famous unicorn who lived a thousand years ago?"

"Star Swirl the Bearded?" Twilight offered.

"Yeah, him. Imagine what Equestria would be like if they hadn't learned to control and use their magic." Heaross smiled down at Twilight then. "Imagine what you could do for Equestria." Twilight smiled at the thought.

"Yeah." She said, sitting up a bit straighter. "Thank you, Heaross." Thank you so much.

Heaross just smiled in that stupid, shit-eating grin Twilight had come to love. He pulled her into a kiss, holding it for a few seconds. Releasing it, Heaross whispered to her, "I love you."

"I love you, too." Twilight returned. A tear made its way down her muzzle, only to be wiped away by Heaross.

Life in Bandages [Crossover]

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After the events of Mogloween, Heaross had been escorted to Ponyville's hospital, a building he hadn't noticed in his explorations. It was fittingly named Ponyville General. After a thorough checkup and several layers of bandages all around his chest, Heaross was released to go home, though with a deadening spell placed on his chest. He wouldn't admit it, but the pain had been almost unbearable after drinking the potion.

One major thing Heaross had noticed after ingesting the elixir was that the scar the manticore had given him was completely gone. It was almost as if he hadn't been clawed in the first place. Understandably, Heaross was both depressed and elated at the scar being removed. Depressed because it was a major reminder of the home he had lost, while elated because the thing had always twinged him when he bent too much in certain directions. Along with this, several of Heaross' other scars were gone too. He was in a foul mood the day after when he had noticed it in the hospital.

Heaross was currently in his home, relaxing on his bed while reading a book Twilight had recommended to him while recovering. 'Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone' was the name of it. Personally, Heaross enjoyed the novel, a complex adventure of treasure hunting and mystery solving that kept him quite entertained. The main character, Daring Do, also very much reminded him of Valencia, the world famous treasure hunter of his home. The two were so similar, Heaross had to wonder if maybe they were dimensional copycats. Or maybe the author had met Valencia, and wrote a series based on a pony version of her. Or maybe Daring Do is Valencia, just turned into a pony. Or maybe it was simply coincidence, and Heaross was looking too much into it.

In any case, the warrior continued to read the story, enraptured in the mysteries and action well written by the author. After finishing the final sentence of the book, Heaross softly closed the novel, setting it aside him. Stretching, he rose from the bed, going over to his desk, barely a few paces away. On a small to-do list he made, he wrote "Meet A. K. Yearling" in the column. As the Guardian was about to return to his bed for a nap, his eyes fell on the small orb Discord had given him the week prior.

After arguing with himself if he wanted to take a nap or not, Heaross sat in the chair and picked up the small marble. The glowing energies which he recognized as the Elements flowed inside the orb, spinning and cascading around each other. As only five of the Elements were contained in the orb, there was a bit of an imbalance in the energies, causing small sparks to appear occasionally inside. The amounts of the pure Elemental energy were small enough to imbue something with power, but not enough to be used as power themselves. Thus, they were harmless as is.

The Grandmaster watched the Elements interact and affect each other, mesmerized by the floating power. The Fire Element knocked into the Water Element, sparking with the Energy Element, which bumped into the Ice Element, thus spinning around the Wind Element. Each of the Elements moved in tangential harmony and chaos, creating a captivating light show that on a grander scale would equate to an aurora flowing across the sky. Puzzled, Heaross grabbed the paper he had used to record what the orb had said when he first held it.

Mike Elemental... While Heaross didn't want to face something he had no prior experience of while recovering, this Elementalist didn't sound like someone evil. Who knows, maybe he even knew some healing spells. Deciding to take a chance, Heaross rose, holding the orb aloft. Calling out in a loud commanding voice, Heaross said, "Mike Elemental, I call upon you! Heed my cry and come!" A bright flash came from the orb, blinding him.

In another parallel Equestria, a young man was resting peacefully inside his mansion, at the center of the Everfree. It was a peaceful day, and after getting Thunder Blitz, the place was starting to get livelier again.

It was at that very moment that his link to the Elements vibrated, sending him into a instant battle stance on top of his bed. Looking around, he found nobody. “What…?” he muttered, confused.

At the same time, the phoenix trio all barged into his room, stopping right in front of him. “What in the world was that?” Fire Strike asked.

Mike stood in the same place, trying to remember the feeling. However, it was Claw Leafs’ voice that answered the pending question. “Seems like a summon from another World, if I’m guessing right.

Hail Breeze tilted his head. “Summon?”

Oh, that’s right. Mike hasn’t told you all yet? He created his own token shortly arriving home. Just in case some displaced needed his help.”

“With the condition that I wouldn’t go anywhere until I got the first Element.” Mike added. He started to feel the pull of the summon. “Seems like the token is quite effective. I’m feeling it reacting to the call.”

“Then you better suit up.” Fire Strike said. “The voice seemed that it was a powerful warrior, who knows what we’ll find.”
Mike smiled. “Alright then. Take care of the house, Leaf.”

As usual. Just be careful and return safely. I’m getting impatient.

Mike chuckled. “Relax, I’ll be getting you soon enough.” he turned to the trio. “Ready?”

“Aw yeah! Adventure!” Thunder Blitz yelled, before turning into Spirit form and entering his respective armor plate. Fire Strike and Hail Breeze followed after. Mike looked forward, took a step and jumped, letting the pull of his token do his work.

Everything went white.

The bright flash lasted only a few moments, but Heaross could barely see after the light had dimmed down. When his eyes were finally able to adjust back to the normal light of the room, Heaross saw a strange figure kneeling on his floor. The evidently male character seemed to be glowing slightly, maybe from the magic effect that brought him here. He wore a strange suit of light armor, made of several different pieces that each bore a color of red, blue, and yellow. The armor seemed quite strong, but the coloring would make him a walking target in broad daylight or moonlight. Wrapped around the man’s body was a strange white band and stripes, to which Heaross could detect an enchantment to make the band much heavier than it actually is.

As he watched, the glow from the figure died down until only the light from Heaross’ lantern kept the room bright. When the figure stood up, Heaross saw his face. The young man looked around his mid-twenties with brown eyes and dark hair slightly pulled back. He stretched a little and sighed. “Never thought my trip to another World would be like this.” he muttered. He then looked at Heaross.

Eventually, as both men regarded each other, they both broke into cocky smiles, colored with wariness. Introducing himself, Heaross said, “Greetings, you must be Mike Elemental. I am Heaross, Guardian of Battleon, at your service.”

“Nice to meet you, Heaross.” returned Mike, “Indeed I am. Mike ‘Holy Hands’ Elemental, the Elementalist. Why did you use my token to call me?”

“Well,” Heaross said, sitting down with a grimace, “I was simply curious. ‘Holy Hands?’”

Mike chuckled. “Yes, that. I earned that title after learning how to give massages. You will find no greater masseuse in Equestria.” Mike said this while wagging his fingers.

“We will see, Mike.” Heaross gave a sharp intake of breath then, feeling the deadening spell on his chest give out. “There it is…” Addressing Mike now. “You wouldn’t happen to know of a healing spell, would you?”

Mike frowned, noticing the bandages. “What happened to your chest?” he asked warily.

“I learned the lesson that you should never let Twilight think you died.” Heaross looked away, slightly embarrassed at the thought. “In any case,” he continued, “Think those ‘Holy Hands’ could help me out? My chest literally feels like it’s being crushed.” Heaross had a smirk before losing it at the pain in his chest.

Mike took note of his pain. He closed his eyes for a moment and opened again, this time revealing to be baby blue. He flinched. “Ouch. Yeah, I can see you need a treatment urgently. Fire Strike!” he called towards his right armplate.

The red armplate glowed, and a red sphere came out. It burst into flames and from them a phoenix materialized, landing right next to him. He looked at Mike. “What do you need?” Fire Strike asked.

“Phoenix tears.” Mike replied, keeping his eyes still fixed at Heaross. “A vial to drink, another to apply for a Healing and Recovery Treatment, with one feather to speed recovery.” Fire Strike nodded and started looking around for a pair of vials.

“A phoenix?” Heaross asked, surprised at seeing the phoenix moving around swiftly.

“Fire Strike, of the Fires of Loyalty.” Mike replied, as his eyes returned to dark brown. “More like a friend and companion. You better lie down on the side for a start. I need to relief some of the accumulated pressure on your chest.”

Heaross complied and lied down on the bed. Mike clapped his hands and rubbed them to warm up. “I’ll try to be quick and precise so that you don’t feel too much pain.” before Heaross could respond, several quick hits struck his spine in different places. Heaross groaned in pain, but before he could say anything else, Mike had turned around the bed and gave two hits on each side of his chest.

“Are you helping me or killing me?” Heaross growled through the pain of the hits he was receiving together with the pain he already had.

“Helping you.” Mike replied calmly. “But never expect a treatment for your case to be painless at first. Lie on your back.”

“Don’t you have any spells to heal?” Heaross groaned as he shifted to lie on his back, noticing Fire Strike approaching, with two vials full of a crystalline liquid held on each of his large tail feathers, and a small, red feather on his beak. He idly wondered where the vials came from, since Heaross never kept any in his house.

“My spells either rely on offense and defense during battle, sometimes for housework.” Mike spoke as he formed a cup with his hands. “Support and healing are not my forte, but in certain cases I can use a treatment to compensate.” Fire Strike poured one of the vials into the cupped hands, letting Mike wash them over quickly, before taking the red feather and crushing it between his palms. There was a light ‘bomf’, and smoke came out of his hands. When Mike parted his hands, his palms were glowing. “All right, now I can start the Treatment.”

Mikes’ hands blurred. Before Heaross could feel it, he saw the speed of the treatment Mike was giving. His hands hovered over Heaross’ body, barely touching him, but he could feel his fingers giving slight touches from time to time.

Just as fast as he started, Mike suddenly stopped, sighing in relief. “All right, all done.” he looked at Heaross. “How do you feel?”

Heaross moved his neck to face Mike. And felt every bone and muscle give at once.

His body tensed up, going rigid as every bone connection cracked just from a slight movement. His body felt like a firework factory for three seconds, before falling limp again on the bed, taking a deep breath. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d call you Robina. Wow, everything does not feel like working.”

“Yeah, a side effect of my treatment.” Mike explained absently. “Your chest should not hurt anymore, and I took the liberty of relieving some of the pent up stress you had.” he took the second vial from Fire Strike and thanked him. Fire Strike nodded and went back into the armplate. He passed the vial to Heaross “Drink this. It’s phoenix tears. A little salty, but it will heal any internal injury you have, together with helping the recovery I just gave you.”

“I don’t think I have any more internal injuries, but alright.” Heaross took the vial, swirling it for a moment. “Don’t argue with the doctor, right?” The warrior sat up before chugging the liquid in one complete go. “Yeah, that’s salty.” Heaross took a deep breath before standing up and removing his bandages. He did some stretches to limber his muscles up after little use for so long.

“Nice physique.” Mike complimented. “You must be rather strong.”

“Well,” Heaross responded, “I am very strong. The figure is just a nice side effect of extensive workout sessions.” He continued moving his arms and legs around until he turned back to Mike, asking, “Care to trade blows with me for a moment? I do rather enjoy a good spar.”

Cocky grins settled on both of their faces, regarding each other’s strength. “I don’t see why not.” Mike answered. “I must warn you, however. Appearances aren’t everything, I am much stronger than I look.”

“Good.” Heaross replied. “I won’t have to hold back.” The Guardian used a spell to switch to his Ultra Guardian Armor, the dark plates shining cleanly. “Would you say the Everfree forest would be a good battleground? It’s far enough away from civilization.”

“I can agree to that.” Both combatants headed out of the house and into the dark forest situated not very far from where they were.

“I can feel that you’re pretty strong, Mike.” Heaross complimented.

“Likewise, Heaross.” Mike returned.

Both men stood ready, combat stances rigid while they prepared themselves for their strongest strike.

“But I feel that you’re not going all out. Care to not hold back for just one punch?” Heaross asked, cockily.

Mike raised an eyebrow, but shrugged and smiled. “Sure. Make sure you don’t regret it.” he returned, just as cocky.

“Alright then.” The Grandmaster stepped back from the Elementalist, sheathing his sword.

“Let’s do this.” The Elementalist took a stance.




Mike dashed, right fist at the ready. During the distance, a white band surrounding the right wrist detached, as his right fist got covered by an ice gauntlet, fire bursting from his elbow, giving more momentum and striking the Grandmaster right where the armor was the strongest.

Heaross braced for the impact of the punch. He knew it would be strong. He didn’t expect however, to be sent back flying through the entire of the Everfree, back out and towards Ponyville.

Mike blinked. “I overdid it, didn’t I?” he muttered.

Thunder Blitz peeked from his plate. “Well, he asked for it.”

“We better make sure if he’s alright.” Mike said.

Fire Strike materialized. “He’s fine. The punch you gave was strong, and his armor proved to have a good defense.”

“How do you know?” Mike asked.

“There wasn’t even a dent when he flew back.” Fire Strike replied.

“Even so, better safe than sorry. Thunder Blitz?”

The yellow phoenix went back into the plate. Fire Strike took off in the direction Heaross went, as Mike took a small sprint, zigzagging between the trees like a blur.

“I just remembered something.” Hail Breeze spoke up during the sprint.

“What is it?” Mike asked.

“How will the natives of this World react when they find out you knocked out their protector?”

Mike slowed down for a moment. “Let’s hope he’s conscious when we arrive.” he replied. “But just in case, let’s keep our defense up.”

As Mike approached the end of the Everfree, an armor made of ice materialized around his body. Upon arriving at the edge of Ponyville, he saw Heaross in a kneeling stance, one knee upon the ground. The warrior didn’t seem to even be breathing heavy.

Heaross, detecting that Mike was there, slowly rose onto his feet, meeting the Elementalist’s eyes. “I’ll give you this, you are certainly strong. You were able to punch me with 83 tons of force. Not something to sneeze at, I assure you.” He said with a smile. “But we agreed to not hold back, right?” Mike nodded. “That’s what I thought.”

Slowly, as Heaross started moving towards him, the air grew heavy around the Grandmaster. When they were barely a few feet apart, Mike almost felt as if he was going to fall under the sheer pressure. “As the Grandmaster Warrior of the Guardians,” Heaross started, “I have certainly gained a few benefits. One of them,” he said, holding up a finger, “is that the Grandmasters, not just me, have a Limiter Spell placed on them. This serves three purposes. 1. It allows us to go about a normal day without breaking anything. 2. It allows us to gain even more strength through pushing past our now greatly increased limits.

“And third and finally, when we break the Limiter, an effect takes place around us. Mine, for instance as I am sure you are feeling right now, judging by the way you can barely stand, causes a sort of pressure to form around me. Most aren’t able to withstand the force of it, and feel themselves being crushed, almost as if they went too far underwater. Now,” Heaross said, holding up Mike’s chin with a finger, “How strong do you think I have to be to cause that sort of pressure, hmm?”

Mike wasn’t able to imagine the sheer power Heaross had, if his effect could cause this much trouble for him to simply stand. “That’s what I thought.” The Grandmaster said at the Elementalist’s silence. “Now, for that punch.” Heaross took a few steps back from Mike, lessening the pressure around him slightly, though that changed when the warrior rushed towards him, punching him full on in the gut.

Heaross had the small worry that he may have overdid it, fully breaking his Limiter. The worry was nullified when he felt Mike’s magical essence fly away, but not diminish. Taking that as a good sign that he didn’t kill the man, Heaross set off towards where he flew away, idly wondering if had set a new record in launching distance.

Mike on the other side was glad he put on the armor. Hail Breezes’ Ice Armor can be stronger than diamond and capable of withstanding critical hits, shattering to lessen the damage towards its user. As he flew back, he could see the point of impact where Heaross hit him. The armor had cracked visibly and a few pieces were flying out, turning into vapor. The trip however was brief, when Fire Strike caught him in midair. Or rather, collided with him.

“Okay… what the heck happened?” the phoenix asked, holding Mike by his shoulders and keeping aloft.

Mike however, looked thoughtful. “He withstood the punch.” a wicked grin appeared. “Alright then. He’s worthy.” he looked down, spotting Heaross looking up at him. “Let’s go down.”

Heaross watched as Mike landed, the phoenix going back into his armplate. “So, did you enjoy the flight?”

As Mike touched the ground, Heaross was suddenly assaulted by a heavy pressure, almost identical to his own. “I’m glad you told me about your limiter. Let me tell you about mine.” He took a step forward, the pressure only increasing, forcing Heaross to kneel. “I possess two sets of restraints: One white, the primary, and one black, the secondary, only in last resort.” He kneeled to be face to face with Heaross. “The pressure you’re feeling is something I only do to avoid confrontation or just to intimidate. Even so, I guess you can tell we’re both similar in that regard. But I digress.” The pressure faded. “When I usually fight, I like to measure my opponent’s strength, so I fight with all my restraints. And I’m at 25% strength. The punch you took from me was already boosted with the Elements, but without the primary restraint. My right arm would be going at 50%, 65 with the boost when it connected. And I’m glad you withstood. In my World, a punch like that can knock out a mountain-sized dragon.”

Heaross, still kneeling, said, “65%, huh? I gave you that punch at full power.” Standing now, he continued, “Would you believe me if I said I had a couple more tricks up my sleeve?”

Mike grinned. “And who said I haven’t?”

“Well,” Heaross started, “I myself have 2 more forms that would make this more interesting. For the sake of the forest, I’m not going to reveal those.” As he reinstated the Limiter Spell, Heaross moved into a more comfortable distance to talk at.

Mike nodded. “I’ll have to agree with you. In my case, releasing all my restraints is something I rather leave for a last resort.” He grimaced. “Putting them back on is a pain afterwards. And besides, I don’t have all the Element Spirits with me.” He gave Heaross a playful knock on his chest armor, grinning. “And let me be honest, I was kind of eager to know if I could punch you all the way to Canterlot, but I would rather not surprise the princesses.”

“True,” Heaross returned, also grinning, “They might be a bit peeved if I just flew in their windows, unannounced.” Pulling out a couple health and mana potions, he offered them to the visitor. “Here, take some potions. The red ones can heal you back up to tip fighting form, restoring your stamina as well. The blue ones restore your mana pool, so you can cast more spells. They’re also rather effective at curing headaches.”

“Thanks, Heaross. Anything I should keep in mind with these?”

“Don’t drink a health potion if you broke a bone or are ill, they only make it worse. Be careful not to spill the mana potions, weird things happen if you do. Otherwise, not really. The bottles are glass though, so careful there.”

Mike took out a small leather pouch, to which he stored the potions inside. “Might be useful sometime, when Fire Strike isn’t with me. Thanks.” He took a look towards the setting sun, deciding he had stayed in the World for long enough. “I had fun here, Heaross.”

“A fine day for me too, Mike.” The Grandmaster offered an arm to the Elementalist, to which he gladly took.

“If you ever need me, don’t hesitate to use my token again.”

“A token?” Heaross questioned. “So that’s what the orb was. Care to show me how to make one?”

“Maybe some other time.” Mike grinned, letting go of the warrior’s arm. “In order to go back, you have to send me through my token. Take care, Heaross.”

“You too, Mike.” He returned, taking out Mike’s token. “Your service has been fulfilled. I, Heaross, send Mike Elemental back to his World.” The orb flashed once, and Mike vanished.

Letting a sigh fall, Heaross turned from where his friend stood and started making his way back to Ponyville, storing the orb in a pouch. As he idly wondered what it was Twilight and her friends did over the day, he saw the mares entering the little hamlet from the train station.

Twilight noticed Heaross standing there, watching them. With a few words to her companions, she ran towards the Guardian, leaping into his arms, where he caught and held her tightly. “Hey Heaross.” She greeted happily.

“Hey Twilight.” He responded. “What did you do today?”

“I met A.K. Yearling.” She said this with a big smile.

“The one who wrote the Daring Do series, right?” At Twilight’s nod, he said, “Color me jealous. I actually wanted to meet her.”

“Maybe you can meet her sometime soon.” She offered with a cheeky grin. “Anyways, what did you do today?”

“I made a new friend today.”

“Well, that’s good.” Twilight and Heaross shared a kiss before he let her down, where she returned to her friends and continued their conversation. Smiling, Heaross returned to his house for some food and rest.

Once he had finished eating, Heaross moved to the desk in his bedroom. He took out a small leather pouch, whereupon he deposited the contents onto the surface. A small, grey feather. A stamped Dragon’s Tongue. A tiny, incredibly sharp tooth. A broadsword, shrunken to an insect’s size. A lock of sharp blue hair. The orb from Mike. A pair of photos, worn with age.

Heaross looked over each of the items fondly, remembering his family, the one from the farm, and the one in the tower. If he had the chance, he’d do it all over again.

Guardian's Lesson

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A/N: Here's the summary of the previous chapter for those of you who didn't want to read it.

Heaross is reading the first in the Daring Do series of books, being reminded of Valencia from his world. Finishing it, he takes the orb Discord had given him the week prior and summons Mike Elemental. The two become fast friends and Mike heals Heaross, removing an immense pain from his chest caused by Twilight and the potion. It is revealed that due to a side effect of the potion, he has lost a large amount of his scars and is upset about this. Heaross and Mike agree to a spar in the Everfree forest. It is revealed here that Heaross has a Limiter Spell placed on him, restricting his power. He can break the Limiter at any time, though this causes a pressure presence effect to take place around him. The Grandmaster and the Elementalist part on friendly terms, Heaross giving him 3 healing and 3 mana potions. Twilight and her friends arrive back in Ponyville soon after, revealing that the chapter took place alongside Daring Don't, though Heaross has no effect on the episode. He returns to his home and it is shown that he has a small pouch carrying a few items that Heaross holds very dear.

Heaross woke up that morning to a loud banging sounding on his front door. Grumbling, he got up and made his way to the door, where he found Derpy banging on it. While the mailmare may be a bit clueless sometimes, it was undeniable that she was strong, especially for a pegasus. "Hi, Mr. Heaross!" She happily greeted.

Heaross sighed before responding, "Good morning, Derpy. Did I receive any mail?"

"Yup! Got one from Princess Celestia herself!"

Well, that certainly doesn't bode well. Or maybe it bodes excellently, and he's simply worried over nothing. Derpy handed Heaross the letter, leaving with a delightful goodbye.

Dear Heaross,

I hear that you have settled into Ponyville with little trouble. I hope the crazy little hamlet isn't already driving you insane. Rumors have been floating around Canterlot as of recent, mostly of you and Twilight being in a relationship. While I hope this secret was revealed by you two, I have my suspicions that it does not. I have done what I can to withhold it from Twilight's parents, but even I can only do so much. Prepare yourself, Guardian. War is coming.

In other news, something called the Equestria Games is being established, and we would love for Twilight and you to make an appearance. Ponyville is already entering in the games, so tidings of the event will soon be abound. As something for you to do, since protecting Twilight is such a demanding job, Luna and I agree that you should enter the Games, though take care in whatever it is you enter, since nopony will ever be able to top your records. We also agreed that you should help the foals prepare for the flag ceremony. Attached is a sheet with instructions and tips for the flag carriers. We had the thought originally of Rainbow Dash doing the job, but recent accusations have placed us in a tight space.

Your friend,


P.S. Luna is begging for you to visit. Since the revisions to the court, we've had much more free time and spent quality time together. As such, we quickly grew tired of the exercise and now want something exciting to do. You training the guard into shape would be acceptable, though do not consider this mandatory. We simply are bored.

Indeed, attached to the letter was a sheet explaining the purpose and instruction of preparing the foals flag routine. Heaross quickly read the sheet and grinned. It had been some time since his last class. Summoning on his armor, the Guardian exited his house. Before reentering and heading to the kitchen, since he hadn't ate breakfast yet. He quickly did that, consisting of a couple scrambled eggs, some buttered toast, and a few strips of bacon, before washing it down with some milk.

Now ready for the day, Heaross exited his house, heading towards the Ponyville library. After knocking on the door for a bit, he was greeted by the sight of a groggy drake. "Morning, Heaross..." Spike wearily managed to get out.

"Good morning, Spike." Heaross greeted jovially. "I was just seeing if you could pass a message to Twilight for me."

"She isn't awake right now," The baby dragon said before yawning, "but sure. What did you want to tell her?"

"Just tell her 'The sins of the parent'. She'll know what I mean."

"Alright, Heaross. What are you doing up so early, anyways?"

"I just really like teaching, Spike." His grin was both malicious and warm... somehow. "I get to judge some foals on flag carrying techniques."

"Have fun with that. I'm going back to bed." Spike waved before closing the door.

With that out of the way, Heaross made his way towards the schoolhouse. Before entering, he listened in to the lesson, which turned out to be the perfect time since recess was just announced. Bouncing back, the door to the school building slammed open, flooding with small foals and a haggard looking adult.

After the wave had subsided, Heaross approached the cerise colored pony. "Hello, there. I am Heaross, Guardian of Battleon, and teacher of foals for the next few days. I assume you must be Cheerilee?"

The teacher bared a weak smile at him, before nodding. "Yes, I'm Miss Cheerilee. Are you here for the flag carrying lesson?"

"That I am. Considering you just let the foals go for recess, I would chance a guess that you must be exceedingly exhausted today."

With a slightly snarky smile, she returned, "That I am. Normally, they're a delight to teach, but today has been very trying. They're all excited about the Equestria Games and having the chance to represent Ponyville has left them unruly."

"I would assume so." Heaross replied, giving a fond look towards the playing children. "If you need to take a break, I could arrange to take over the class for the rest of the day. Give a chance to restore that boundless energy you have." He said this with a grin.

"Oh please, do. Just don't hurt any of them, I couldn't see to have one harmed."

"That won't be a problem, Cheerilee. Today, I am just a coach."

The Cutie Mark Crusaders were drawing up some plans for what they wanted to do in the flag carrying competition. As excited about the event as they were, when the bell rang for them to return to class, they couldn't help but let out a collective groan. When the trio reentered the classroom, they didn't see Miss Cheerilee around. Slightly hesitant, they took a seat with their classmates, curious about what happened.

This repeatedly asked question by the class was answered when the door opened, and in stepped a human. Said human happened to be Heaross, which the CMC were quite happy about. The class had fallen silent when the Guardian entered, inspecting them with a cruel glare. This quickly changed into a snarky, warm smile as he said, "This seems to be a very well behaved class. By this time, I would have received a spitball to the cheek and sentenced the brat to detention. I am glad that hasn't happened yet."

Unfortunately, Diamond Tiara decided to speak up then. "Who are you? And what happened to Miss Cheerilee?"

Detecting the sass, Heaross replied, "She had a bit too much excitement and had to go home. I'm here as the stand-in until she feels better."

"Why do you care? It's not like you're somepony important." Several gasps came from a few of the foals scattered around the room who knew Heaross.

Heaross only grinned before launching into a tirade. "My name is Heaross Archer, current Grandmaster Warrior of the Guardians and Legendary Adventurer in my own aspect. The two who you all call the Princesses understand that I do not bow to them. They do not bow to me either. I am someone who is entrusted with the grand responsibility of protecting the populous and ensuring threats to both the world and the people are dealt with. I do my research about everything, including you, Diamond Tiara." Said filly only stared at the Guardian in resentment, though this changed to astonishment and horror upon his next words. "You were born in Canterlot General, though your family moved to Ponyville when you were only 3. Having mostly been taught by your mother on mannerisms, you take after her quite excellently, even when she is very harsh on you. Due to this, you are a very stuckup filly, cruel in your taunts to others. You believe yourself above the consequences of most, and find that you have no equal. As a result of Spoiled Rich's manipulation, your father, Filthy Rich, is almost entirely in the dark about all of this. Were he to find out about this, he would immediately divorce your mother and homeschool you until he sees fit that you wouldn't be a pompous mare with her nose stuck so far in the clouds, you could smell the moon."

The class had gone completely silent, now staring at the utterly horrified filly with a tiara on her head. "Wow." Scootaloo managed to get out.

"Okay, class," Heaross said as if nothing had happened at all, "Today, you will be drawing up plans for a flag carrying routine you and at least one other can do. Limit four to a group, split up and draw plans. You have until the end of the day to turn in a solid plan on paper. Your homework for tonight will be to practice the routine your group made and present it tomorrow. Arrangements have been made with Rarity from Carousel Boutique to provide several flags with the chosen Ponyville marker on them. Remember students," He warned, "You will be representing Ponyville and the trained athletes that have worked very hard for this. I expect nothing short of excellence from all of you."

Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo were stunned. Heaross was strict with bullies. Not wanting to incur the wrath of their temporary teacher, they immediately got together and continued their plans from outside. Scootaloo seemed a bit apprehensive about something, but brushed it off when her friends asked.

At the end of the day, the fillies had managed to draw up a comprehensive plan for their flag carrying routine. After some extensive thought, the trio turned in their work, happy with the results. As Heaross inspected the plan, complete with multiple papers, he kept his face a stone mask. After thoroughly going over the sheets, he turned to the fillies and said, "I'm not supposed to have favorites as a teacher. But I have to admit, if you three can pull this off, it would be an excellent routine. I'm very happy with this, all of you have put in your own touch, making it very unique and detailed. If I were your permanent teacher I would hang this up on a wall after you each learn it."

Heaross handed the paper back to the fillies, smiling. Sweetie Belle spoke up then, saying, "Thank you, Heaross. It's going to blow you away!"

The Guardian just ruffled the fillies mane, responding, "I sure hope so. Now go home you three, school's almost out." As the Cutie Mark Crusaders left the building, Heaross called out, "And make sure to practice tonight!"

"We will!" The trio called back to him. Heaross chuckled a bit.

Twilight Sparkle finally woke up, surrounded in books. It seemed to be late afternoon by the clock on her wall, but everything was moving slowly and groggy, so it was hard to tell. After a few attempts at getting her hooves under her, the alicorn managed to rise and make her way downstairs. Sitting on the couch there was Spike, reading a comic book.

"Hey Twilight." Spike called out to her. "It's 2."

After a small yawn, Twilight responded with, "Alright. Anything happen while I was out?"

"Heaross came by early this morning. He had a message for you."

"Okay, what was it?" Twilight managed to have a curious expression over her haggard looking one.

"'The sins of the parent'. He said you knew what it meant."

Twilight had gone stock-still at this. After a solid minute of nothing happening, by which time Spike had come up and waved a clawed hand in front of her face, she let out a scream that rivaled a dragon's when it roared. Right after she stopped, Twilight rushed around the library, cleaning and straightening things that had already been cleaned and straightened.

"Twilight?! What's happening?!" Spike managed to yell out over the cacophony.

The terrified alicorn mare managed to turn to him, gripping him by the cheeks. With a breath barely over a whisper, sounding like a snake, she answered, "My parents are coming."

The next day, Heaross rose earlier than normal, just so he could make it to school on time. After a hearty breakfast and workout routine, the warrior set out towards the school. Arriving, he noticed the props and flags set off around the back. Inside, he saw Cheerilee overlooking some very excited seeming foals. Grinning slightly, he gave a knock, to which the teacher answered. When the class saw Heaross, a chorus of cheers erupted, followed by a stampede of young ponies rushing towards the props and flags.

"How do you manage to work with them like this?" Cheerilee tiredly asked.

Heaross laughed before answering, "You should see the recruits for the Guardians. If you think these foals are strenuous, just remember that training the recruits is considered a punishment."

"Heh. At least your working with adults."

"Who are trying to use weapons that are designed to kill things." Heaross started his way towards the class, leaving a shuddering teacher in his wake. "Students, grab the flags you need and the props you brought. We'll be doing this one group at a time. Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon, you're up first. Set up the stage and tell me when you're ready."

After barely a few minutes, Diamond Tiara came up to Heaross and announced that they were ready. The self-assured grin on her face spelled disaster. And true to his gut feeling, the routine the pair had come up with horrendous. It only spoke of how great the two fillies were, not representing Ponyville at all. As the Guardian wrote down the results, he called up the next group. Snips and Snails were the next, followed by Pipsqueak and Derpy's daughter. The trend continued on, with some of the routines being remarkably unique and original, yet poor in execution and matter.

After some time, and several more groups, the Cutie Mark Crusaders were up. After a moment, the routine started, and Heaross had to say, it was fantastic! It represented Ponyville as best as three fillies could, while keeping the same charm that it was known for. As unfortunate as it was, he couldn't play favorites, so after they had finished, he called them off the stage. Luckily, they were the last group. Unluckily, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon saw the performance and agreed that it was fantastic. So, they tried to mess it up by undermining Scootaloo's courage about how she couldn't fly.

Cheerilee didn't notice any of this, but Heaross did. Approaching the large group of fillies, the temporary coach called out, "Scootaloo, is this true? You can't fly?"

The orange pegasus nodded shyly, ashamed at the fact. Heaross responded by, "Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon, detention." Said fillies were outraged, but Cheerilee had noticed by this time and took them away. Heaross kneeled down as close as he could to Scootaloo's eye level, before asking her, "Would you like to learn how to fly?" He tried to keep a warm smile on his face.

It seemed to work if the pegasus' brightened expression was any factor. "You can teach me?!"

"Who do you think taught Gust how to? And, just as a small bonus, I'll remember to bring Rainbow Dash along to help teach you."

Scootaloo almost squealed in excitement, before managing to calm herself enough to keep from flying right then. She was literally vibrating in anticipation.

"But," Heaross exclaimed, raising a finger, "You have to promise me you won't change your routine. Don't try to change what's already perfect."

"Got it, Heaross! Oh, I'm gonna fly, I'm gonna fly, I'm gonna fly!" Scootaloo was doing a very poor job at keeping her excitement contained.

"You will, kid. Trust me."

After dealing with the stuck up pair's detention, Heaross was finally able to go home. Barring any more interruptions, he would eat, perform his nightly routine, and then sleep to wake up early for the train to the Crystal Empire. It seemed that fate just loved to laugh at a normal night, huh? When he arrived at his house and unlocked the door, Twilight and two other ponies who seemed quite similar to her sat in his living room.

"Twilight? Who are these two? And why are you all in my living room?"

"Well, Heaross, these are my parents." Twilight seemed nervous more than anything.

"Oh..." Heaross was not ready to deal with this quite yet. He had just got home. "Um, hello. I'm sorry, but this is all a little sudden for me."

Twilight's mother was staring very intensely at the Guardian. If he was any normal man, he would be buckling under the sheer gaze of her eyes, but Heaross was not a normal man. He had dealt with threats so great, the world was in danger. It didn't stop him from being frightened about those eyes, though. "I am Twilight Velvet. This," She gestured to the blue unicorn beside her, "Is my husband, Night Light. We are Twilight's parents. And we have heard that you are dating her."

Guardian, he may be, but fearless, he is not. "Yes," Heaross answered, keeping his voice level as possible, "Twilight and I are in a relationship." Realizing he hadn't introduced himself, "My apologies, I haven't introduced myself. I am Heaross, Guardian of Battleon."

"Drop the titles." Night Light demanded. "Why are you dating our daughter?" He crept closer to the man, making the height difference that much more noticeable.

Standing his ground, Heaross replied, "Because she is a wonderful pony. She's smart, funny, and all around a pleasure to be with." Just as Night Light opened his mouth, Heaross cut him off with, "And before you jump to conclusions about royalty and all that," He reached a hand through the portal he had opened up in that moment, pulling out the paper with his and Twilight's signatures on it, "We have signed legal documents that if we were to wed," Twilight Velvet growled at that, "I would not inherit the title of 'Prince'."

The parents were dumbfounded. They thought that the human was only trying to get closer to Twilight for her rank, only to find the opposite. "Well," Twilight Velvet said, regaining her composure, "That does not mean that you are perfect for her."

"And I wouldn't expect him to be." The alicorn spoke up, finally getting a word in. "Heaross respects me as an intelligent, caring individual, and he only wants to see the best for me. Sure, he makes mistakes, but we all do." Twilight flew up to perch on his shoulder then.

"Don't you think you two might have taken this a little quickly?" Night Light questioned.

"We... might have taken things a bit faster than intended." Heaross confessed. "It doesn't make it any less real." He gave a warm glance to Twilight, eye level with her now.

Both of her parents sighed before conversing in whispered tones, glancing quickly at Heaross. With a final sigh between them, they turned back to the couple while Twilight Velvet asked Twilight Sparkle, "Are you sure that you want to be with him?" Heaross gave a small look of offense at that. "We just want you to be happy."

Twilight jumped down, walking over to her parents who she gave a hug to. "Mom, Dad, I am happy with him. Since I became a princess, almost nopony has taken my word as a friend, they all act like I'm super important now. Heaross makes me happy because he sees past that. He doesn't see a princess to rescue or a conquest to overtake, he sees me for me." She glanced back at the warrior, who gave her a kind smile, before turning back to her parents. "Yes, I want to be with him."

Her parents returned the hug, before responding, "If he makes you happy, we'll accept it. But, young mister," Twilight Velvet exclaimed to Heaross, "If you hurt a single hair in her mane, so help me, I will tear Tartarus apart to throw you in there myself!"

Not wanting to antagonize the mother, Heaross sheepishly answered, "Yes ma'am. I won't hurt her."

"Good boy." Night Light said. "Now, is there anything to eat? We missed dinner."

Heaross laughed before pointing them in the direction of the kitchen. Twilight's parents left the room, leaving just the happy couple in there. With a heavy sigh, Heaross sat on the couch. Twilight joined him a moment later, laying across his thighs. "That went well." Commented the Guardian.

"I thought they would hate you." Responded Twilight.

"Frankly, so did I."

Twilight breathed a sigh of relief that changed into a slight moan when Heaross started to knead and roll her withers. The warrior's deft fingers accurately pressed and shifted tense muscles that had been there since her parents arrived. A small spot on her spine, when pressed, caused her to moan rather loudly. While Twilight blushed, Heaross less so, they both could hear laughter erupt from the kitchen.

"Found the spot, did ya?" Night Light called out to Heaross.

"Careful, she gets unruly if you press it too much!" Twilight Velvet added, to Twilight Sparkle's dismay. More laughter came from the parent duo.

Curious, Heaross pressed the spot a little harder, to which Twilight uncontrollably moaned even louder. While raucous laughter kept coming from the kitchen, the Guardian gained a devilish smile. The princess glared at Heaross, though this was tempered by the heavy blush upon her muzzle. Heaross furiously increased the pace of his massage, pressing harder on the spot and other sensitive places until her moans drowned out the uproarious laughter of her parents. The pony, little more than putty in Heaross' hands, would have done something if it weren't for the fact that her mind was extremely muddled by the vigorous treatment.

After a few solid minutes of moans, Heaross finally relented on his assault. Twilight managed to catch her breath for once, while slowly turning her head to face her attacker. Her mane was frazzled by the massage, while her breath was short and stilted. After a moment, she leaped onto Heaross, driving him to his back on the couch with a large wheeze of air being knocked out of him.

"You did it now, Heaross!" Night Light called again. "You drove her too far and now you pay the consequences!" Said consequences amounted to having his entire armor set being torn off and flung around the room by the magically adept alicorn.

Quickly leaping away from the ravenous monster after him, Heaross raced towards his bedroom, Twilight in close pursuit. He closed the door to the room, while Twilight smacked into it, flying at full speed. This didn't deter her though, as she simply teleported through the threshold and into the room. With a small *click* the door locked and Heaross was backed into a corner.

Twilight's voice hung still in the air, low and seductive while unchallenged. "Oh, come here my Guardian. You can't stop me this time, oh no, you did this yourself and now you have to face the truth of the matter. You did this to me, so I'm going to repay every single bit of it in kind."

As she crept closer and closer to Heaross, he heard just outside of his bedroom her parents laughing. "Sorry, Heaross!" Twilight Velvet called out. "We couldn't stop her when she was a filly, and we sure can't stop her now! Have fun~!" With a sound almost like a growling predator, Twilight pounced.

Heaross woke up, softly cuddling Twilight while she slept. Without a doubt, that was the weirdest night he had ever had. Blinking a bit, the man noticed how the sunlight streamed through the blinds in his bedroom. Something felt off, but he couldn't place what it was. Heaross racked his brain trying to figure out what was missing, but nothing came up. After letting his thoughts drift for a bit, they turned to Scootaloo and what he had said the previous day. With a jolt, Heaross got up and immediately started putting on his armor.

Twilight awoke from the noise he was making as he got ready for the day, though with great haste. "Heaross, what is it?" She tentatively asked.

"I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!" Heaross shouted out, startling the waking alicorn.

"Late for what?"

"I have to be at the Crystal Empire right now to guide the students on their flag carrying! Dammit, I overslept!" Heaross was frantically searching for his missing shoulder plate when he found Twilight holding it. "Twilight, can I please get that? I really need to go."

"Sure, Heaross." She handed him the plate, giving him a kiss before saying, "Go get 'em, tiger."

The Guardian grinned, before launching out of the front door, where he jumped, twirled, and switched to the Fujin armor midair before quickly flying off. He set towards the direction of the train station, before spinning back to wave at Twilight, standing in the doorway. Turning back, he saw the smoke from the train moving farther and farther away from Ponyville, so he commanded the winds to move him closer to the rails.

Scootaloo, currently on the train, was looking out of the window, wondering just where Heaross was. He was supposed to be on the train, prepping the foals for the competition. She turned back to Sweetie Belle who had asked something of her. "Sorry, what was it, Sweetie?"

"I said, would you look out the window over here?" The filly was pointing to the window opposite of Scootaloo, where a crowd of the other classmates were staring out of it. Curious, the leader of the Rainbow Dash fanclub looked outside of it, and subsequently, her jaw completely dropped from it's hinges.

Outside, she saw Heaross flying alongside the train, easily keeping pace. When he saw the filly, he motioned for the students to roll the window down. The class eagerly obeyed, and when Heaross had closed the distance between him and the train, he called out to Scootaloo, "Hey kid, you ready for your first lesson?"

"Heck yeah, Heaross!" Said filly couldn't contain her excitement, and without thinking one drop, bounded out of the window. Normally, this would equate to her being roadkill on the side of the tracks, but for some reason, she landed on a solid, invisible platform.

"First lesson, don't do that." Heaross stood on the platform, not being affected by the rushing wind at all, while Scootaloo's mane was sweeping back and forth across her face and neck. "Second lesson," Heaross instructed, "You control the winds. Don't fight them, but assert your dominance. Never go against them, for you will plummet, fast."

"How do I control the winds?" She called out over the roaring of the train engine.

"Like this." Heaross thrusted an arm in the direction opposite of where the train was heading, then slowly pulled it back in the other direction. As his arm moved, the wind around Scootaloo slowly changed to the other direction, stopping completely at one point then buffeting her the other way. "You have to work with the wind, then coerce it to move for you. You can't brute force it, as some would think. It's very hard to attain mastery of the air, but it's rather easy to learn how to make it work for you."

"How do I do that, Heaross?" The filly stood up now, fighting the wind from pushing her off the platform.

"For me," He explained, "I have the Fujin armor. Some would consider it cheating, but I find it to work just fine. For you, however," He moved his head towards Scootaloo, "You'll have to use your innate pegasi magic."

"But I don't have magic! I can't use any!" Scootaloo was blinking away tears now as the wind started pushing her, edging her along the platform.

"Yes you do, Scootaloo. All pegasi have magic, though most have no idea on how to control it. Focus."


The winds suddenly died down, to where she couldn't even hear the train engine any more. "Find your center." Heaross said, piercing the thick silence. "Focus on what makes you a pegasus. Why can't you fly?"

"Because... my wings are too small." She admitted, her head hung in shame. "I can't move them fast enough to move through the air like Rainbow Dash or you."

"No, that's not true. It's not the size of a pegasus' wings that matter, it's how they can control the movement of the wind." Heaross knelt closer to the filly, lifting her chin with a finger. "Believe in yourself. You can fly." Scootaloo had tears in her eyes, both from the wind and admitting her self-perceived faults. "Let me help you for just a moment here."

Under her wings, a sudden flowing came up, pushing them. Instead of fighting it like most would have said, she let it carry her around. Slowly, she started to flap her wings and move with the wind. "I-I'm doing it!" Gaining confidence, Scootaloo started attempting to command the wind, telling it to move where she would flap her wings. While it didn't feel like the wind was listening to her, it followed her around, pushing up on her tiny wings. She kept going with the wind before attempting to move in a different direction than where it was pushing her. It took her a few minutes before the wind started to move with her, instead of against her. Slowly, Scootaloo tried to command more of it to gather under her wings, and propel her further. And the wind listened. She started to fly higher, above Heaross, above the train, above her fears.

"Scootaloo! Come on down, we're about to arrive at the Crystal Empire!" Listening to the Guardian, she flew down to his arms, where he held her as they entered the train wagon. Everypony on board had dropped their jaws onto the floor, to the amusement of the pair. "You did good, Scootaloo."

"What do you mean, you were the one controlling the wind, right?" The filly was very confused, though she did remember the feeling of listening to the wind and having it respond.

"At first, yes I was. Near the end there, though, you took control and flew by yourself." Heaross kept a sincere smile on his face, since it was all true. He had started it, but partway through he felt the wind listen less and less until he didn't have control over it. Curious, he felt Scootaloo's magic and aura, and was stunned. He didn't fully understand it himself, but what he knew was that she had something called a Mana Essence instead of a Mana Pool. He would explain what they were to her later, most likely during the second lesson. "I didn't help you at the end there. You listened to the wind, and it listened back. When you can achieve that state of harmony with it, then you can control the wind."

"I... I did that?" Scootaloo asked.

"Yes, you did. With some more practice, you can do that subconsciously. But," He said, a finger raised, "Don't try to fly again without Rainbow Dash or I there. Without someone to supervise you, you could lose control and hurt yourself or someone else you care about."

"Got it, Heaross!"

As the warrior changed back to the Ultra Guardian Armor, the train pulled into the Crystal Station. With a shout of encouragement to the class, they exited the train, flags in tow.

A Fine Night for Hunting

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Okay, who was banging on his door at this time of night? Taking a quick glance from his paperwork, Heaross saw that it was currently 11:30 p.m. He heard some stories that Twilight occasionally pulled late night reading sessions, but this didn't seem like it was her. Stretching, the warrior made the way to his door, and the incessant knocking.

Opening it, he found Vinyl Scratch with her shades broken and barely staying on her muzzle. She had some cuts and blood smears over her, while nursing a nasty looking cut, about a foot long across her right foreleg. Looking up, Vinyl brokenly said, "They took her."

"Took who?" Heaross was already guiding her inside, looking over the grievous wounds.

"Octavia. All because I'm some freak of nature." She couldn't meet his eyes while she said this.

"Vinyl, you are no freak of nature. A vampire, yes. But you are still a living, breathing, being." Switching subjects, not allowing her to press the issue, "Now, who's Octavia, and who took her?"

"Octavia is my marefriend. It was some weird group, yelling about how evil won't take over the land. They said their name was the Silver Necks or something like that."

"What did you do?"

Vinyl visibly gulped before answering. "After they had barged in at complete random, they started destroying the place and searching around. Octy and I were upstairs, sleeping. When they came in, they grabbed Octavia and slammed me through a window. I tried to rush back in but one of them threw some collar around me that shocked me so much I fell unconscious. When I woke up, I saw the place on fire and no sign that they had been there. I got the collar off of me and found a note inside of it." She pulled out the note and handed it to Heaross, who read over it quickly.

Come find us. Manehatten, Warehouse 326.

-Silver Necks

Octavia was almost literally in Tartarus. She had been beaten, cuffed, tortured, and almost raped at one point. If it weren't for the leader showing a small mercy by that, she would have been dead by now. Her supposed "guards", if you could call them that, were sitting on some boxes lined up around her. One held a baseball bat, another had a gold sword, and yet another was holding some kind of torch.

The gray mare was strapped to a chair by her forelegs and was chained to the chair itself. From where she was, all she could see were boxes and the door to the warehouse. Wait, did the door just open? It seemed like for barely a second there that it had opened and something dark had flown in. While Octavia was pondering her remaining sanity, several shadows come from nowhere and took out the guards surrounding her, as well as the chains. All she heard was a very sharp cutting sound, then the chains fell. Pushing them off, Octavia took that moment as her cue to leave and did so promptly.

Outside, she got blindsided into a tight hug by Vinyl, who very affectionately nuzzled her. "Wha- How did you do all of that? How did you even break the chains?" She managed to get out through the vigorous squeezing.

"I didn't." She answered, her voice tinged with relief. "I got some help who could."

"Help?" Octavia questioned. "Who is 'help?'"

Pushing off of her marefriend, Vinyl had a not-so-innocent grin on her muzzle. "Remember that human I told you about?"

"Yes, you said his name was Heaross, correct?"

"Yeah, him. Since he's the only one besides you in Ponyville I could turn to about this, I got his help in saving you." The DJ nuzzled Octavia once again, relieved at her safety.

The cellist smiled a bit as she returned the affectionate action, keeping silent in the night. Eventually, she braved to ask, "So, where is Heaross right now, anyways? I need to thank him."

"Heck if I know, Octy." The vampire shrugged as she said this. "He's probably still inside, taking care of those 'Silver Necks.'" She said their name with no small amount of disgust.

"Or," A familiar voice called out to the pair, "He could standing right behind you." Stepping out into the moonlight, Heaross exited the warehouse, holding a gray stallion by way of a tight grip set around his neck. While the warrior didn't seem any worse for wear, the stallion wore many scratches and cuts, bleeding freshly from several open wounds, though only one of them was fatal. The wound was a large imprint of a set of sharp, narrow teeth, almost like a wolf's, but different somehow. The circle was around a crushed mantle hanging around his neck, made of silver and gleaming oddly in the moonlight. It bled almost profusely, but the stallion's lifeless eyes betrayed his true state of being.

As Vinyl looked over the many wounds, the ring around his neck in particular, she asked the 'human', "Jeez, what did you do to him? He looks like he just went through a pit of werewolves." When the vampire looked up, she was met with an almost wolfish grin by the man. Scratch that, it was a literal wolfish grin, as the teeth filling his mouth were razor sharp and whittled to deadly points, reminding her of a wolf's smile. Nervously, Vinyl backed away from the man, bumping into Octavia along the way.

Heaross turned his head away from the mares, while something poked around in his mouth, distending his cheeks and shifting his jawline. Eventually, he turned back to them, showing off a set of normal human teeth. The warrior worked his jaw around for a moment before asking Vinyl, "What do you want me to do with this asshole?" He said, shaking the dead stallion for a moment.

The vampire looked over the corpse, answering, "Throw him in the docks. Far enough that nopony will ever find him. Sink him to the bottom of the ocean if you have to." She turned away, towards Octavia, head bowed. "I never want to see his face again."

"As you wish." Heaross solemnly agreed.

The next week went by rather quickly in hindsight. While Vinyl and Octavia searched for a new house, they stayed over at Heaross' and kept the warrior company for the week. Vinyl's wounds healed quickly from her vampiric regeneration, while Octavia's took longer, even requiring one of Heaross' health potions to prevent some unsightly scarring. While the potion helped heal most of everything, a couple deep wounds didn't seal entirely and left some wicked looking marks. The Guardian did what he could to prevent the scarring, but she would still wear those marks for the rest of her life.

As the end of the week neared, the couple found a suitable house that would both provide lenience and comfort. The only problem was that the cost for it, buying or renting, was entirely out of their price range. Deciding to do one last comfort for the plainly still healing musical duo, Heaross covered the entire price of buying the house for them. At first, they tried what they could to stop Heaross from being so generous, but he didn't buckle under their pressure. As their arguments started to gain some sense of logic in them, Heaross countered with his own, even providing several reasons that he should be doing it and not just because "it's the right thing to do."

So, after some difficulty with the paperwork, Vinyl and Octavia moved into their new home, recently built and coming prefurbished. Heaross enjoyed having the odd couple over, as he was never one to comfortably enjoy solitude. Eventually, his house was quiet once again, leaving the warrior to either strike out and find something fun to do or get something to enjoy his time in. Since he had spent almost all of a week with company, he decided to stay home and enjoy some alone time there. Curling up with a book, Heaross read the day away, enjoying the next part of the Daring Do series, heavily reminded of home.

As fate would have it, reading for an extended period of time would cause one to become tired and dreary, despite the inextensive activity. So, after reading more than half of the novel by days end, Heaross felt very sleepy. Deciding to eat just enough to fill his stomach, the warrior settled in bed for the night and slept happily and soundly. That is, until a knocking came from his front door. At 3 in the morning.

Grumbling, the warrior made the from his bedroom to the front door, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and stifling a yawn. He had to actively resist pulling out the Blade of Awe just due to his early morning grumpiness. Opening the door, Heaross looked down and saw Vinyl Scratch, looking rather timid, despite the overactive mare's nature. Heaving the smallest sigh he could manage, Heaross asked, "What are you doing here so early in the morning Vinyl? I know you're a vampire but I'm not nocturnal like most vampires."

"That was... actually what I wanted to talk to you about, Heaross." The mare admitted. "As a vampire, I'm strong, I'm fast, and I can endure so much more than most others." She admitted the next statement barely over a whisper. "But, it still wasn't enough to save Octavia when it mattered."

"So," Heaross started, "You want some sort of training or equipment to help protect her?"

"No, I'd probably have some trouble sticking to a regimen and I'd likely lose anything you gave me."

"So what do you want then? I can't protect you and Octavia all the time."

The vampire grew a grin as she managed to look the taller man in the eyes. "You managed to bite straight through silver metal, crushing it and I bet you even drained blood through it." Though the incident was still fresh in both mind's, the astoundment of the crushed metal still managed to surprise Vinyl. "How you did that, how you managed to save Octavia without a scratch, I want to be able to do that." The mare looked down, much more serious and resolute than before. "I want to be able to protect Octavia."

Finally seeing what she wanted, Heaross couldn't help but frown. "You do realize what you're asking for, right? My power is not shared lightly, and if you lose control of it, you will not only be a greater danger than a normal vampire, you will be a threat to Octavia." Heaross didn't say this lightly, but he couldn't help but notice some parallels between her and some other civilians.

"I'll learn to control it then. I don't care what happens to me, but I want to protect her."

"Alright then. Vinyl Scratch, there are many things to do before I can give you my power, but the first of a few should be simple. If I give you my power, and find you can't control it, I will take it back. As necessary as it may be, you will be turned into a normal pony. You won't be a vampire anymore. Can you take that responsibility, even knowing the consequences?"


"Good. The second thing about my power is that you will be like no other. You may have the powers of vampires, but they will never accept you. Should you enter their presence, they will immediately leave or try to kill you. With werewolves, it is a similar story, but they are more blatant about it, I find. Can you accept that? Can you live with never being able to see some of your vampire comrades?"

"Yes." She looked less certain about that, but her resolve wouldn't waver.

"Very well then. My final point about this is that if, and I mean if you manage to withstand all of the trials associated, you will receive my power. Understand this, it is, and will remain, my power. Should I wish, for any reason, to take it back, you will be forced to return it. I won't lose my power upon giving it to you, but your new power is entirely mine. You will be mine, in a sense. Should I tell you to kill someone, you do it. If I tell you to run from Ponyville and abandon everything, you will do it. If I tell you to kill me, end my life to save another's, you will do it." Heaross stared critically hard at the pony, testing her resolve.

Vinyl felt uncertain about the last part. In a strange sense, she would become his slave to do with as he bids. She honestly thought of turning down the offer, refusing selling herself to him. But she thought of Octavia, and what happened.

Her resolve iron, Vinyl answered the only way she could. "Yes."

Royal Competition

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"So, Heaross, are you ready for the Running of the Leaves?"

"I'm sorry, the Running of the what?"

Twilight rolled her eyes for a moment. Ever since Heaross came to Equestria, the differing cultural norms had confused both of them to no end, since some of their traditions translated easily, yet others were as baffling to the other as the number of things Heaross could do. "The Running of the Leaves." She explained. "Every year, near the end of fall, all of the ponies in Ponyville make their way to Sweet Apple Acres to race. We run through the orchard where the leaves have started falling and shake them off by racing. The science behind it is really fascinating, but to most it's just a race that helps bring winter along."

"Huh." Heaross said. "In my world, we just let the leaves fall whenever they do and rake them up into piles." As an afterthought, he added, "It's actually kind of fun to jump into the big piles of leaves since they crush and spring back so easily."

"That does sound like fun. Anyways, wanna compete in the race?"

"Eh, why not?" Heaross responded with a shrug. "Today has been pretty lackluster. Anyone else who's going to race?"

"Rainbow Dash and Applejack normally compete, most of the other ponies in Ponyville do for that matter, and a few who come from out of town. Princess Celestia normally comes to watch the race." Twilight tapped her chin for a moment before adding, "Spike and I will be providing commentary throughout the race, so there's that."

"Sure, I'll compete. Sounds like a good time."

The Princess and her Guardian set forth from the library then, heading towards Sweet Apple Acres. Arriving, they saw a rather large crowd of ponies milling about, some with numbers over their cutie marks while others were waiting in a line to get a number. Looking around, Heaross noticed Applejack and Rainbow Dash in a conversation near the starting line. Heaross got the most malicious grin as he called out to the mares, right over the crowd's noise, "You two should kiss!"

As expected, the entire crowd shut up and looked towards the now blushing mares. Heaross was struggling to contain his laughter. Then, to his surprise, Applejack shouted, "BUCK IT!" And grabbed Rainbow Dash, pressing her to the ground in a very fierce kiss. It lasted for all of five seconds while the crowd deafened itself with it's unanimous applause and cheering.

"Well," Heaross admitted, "That just happened."

"Yes, yes it just did." The trained Grandmaster had to repress every single alarm and response his body had to not jump in fear and surprise at Celestia's sudden appearance. Despite this, she still noticed he was surprised. "Did I manage to frighten you, Heaross?" The sly grin showed she knew that it would.

"In a sense, yes." He turned to her then, saying, "So, Celestia, did you come here to watch the race, or do you think you can beat me in a race?"

"I know you're bating me, Heaross."


Celestia let out a small chuckle, before answering, "I normally prefer to watch, but I don't think anypony would object to me entering the race. So that's why," She said, pulling out a couple number cards, "I already prepared for you." She gave him a card, before putting the other one on herself.

Heaross peeled a sheet of wax paper from the card, revealing the sticker, before switching armor to his normal workout gear and pressing the sheet to his back. Number 31, Heaross. He was glad his workout gear just consisted of a plain white tank top and sweats, with some running shoes. Interestingly enough, Heaross noticed Celestia look away from him with a small blush on her face. "Is something wrong Celestia?"

"I... I did not realize that under your armor you actually have a very pleasing physique." She could not look him straight in the face, instead opting to look right at his abs.

Oh. Well, this could get awkward. Switching back to the Ultra Guardian Armor, Heaross asked, "Is that better?" He noticed later that the card he had put on him had somehow moved to cover the back plate of his armor.


"Alright, folks!" Called out a voice from high above. "It's time for the annual Running of the Leaves!" Looking up, Heaross noticed it was Twilight in a large balloon with Spike right beside her. "I am your announcer, Twilight Sparkle."

"And I'm her co-announcer, Spike!"

"And let's get ready to race!" As the balloon moved around the race track, Heaross, Celestia, and every other pony that had shown up came up the starting line. "Let's go over the rules one more time just in case any of you forgot. Pegasi, no wings. Unicorns, no magic. Humans, you can't use any of the benefits from wearing your armor or weapons!"

"Oh, come on!" Heaross shouted up.

"Alicorns, same story as Pegasi and Unicorns."

"Dammit!" Celestia cursed to the sky. The crowd milling around the track got a hearty laugh out of this.

"To everypony, do not change the track signs, do not place obstacles in the other competitors ways, and no breaking away from the track down a different path. Doing any of these is grounds for immediate disqualification."

Heaross sighed a bit, saying, "At the least, it is a fair race."

"True, but I do wish we could use our powers." Celestia returned.

"You should be glad I'm not Robina. That woman could run this track three times over and still be waiting at the finish line for everyone else." Heaross shuddered a bit at the thought. "I've seen that girl bend in ways that should be impossible."

"Get your head in the race, Heaross!" Celestia warned. "It's about to start."

Shaking the lewd images from his head, Heaross readied into a good racing pose, right foot first. "See you at the finish line."

"I'll be seeing you when you get there." Celestia snarked back.

"Ready..." Twilight called out.

"Set..." Spike called out.

"GO!" They both shouted at last.

Heaross immediately sprung, bolting past most of the other competitors, Celestia hot on his trail. Banking around a corner, he sprung his momentum forward, down the path. Celestia managed to catch up to him, racing evenly. As the racing duo came across the obstacle of a river diverging two different parts of the way, they both easily jumped across, Heaross landing easier, keeping his momentum going. Celestia tumbled a bit, losing her speed, though managed to catch back up. Turning through more corners and turns, the pair kept pace with each other, still pressing the limits of their speed.

The next obstacle, being a giant boulder set directly in the middle of the path, did little to dissuade either competitors, as while Celestia jumped over the massive rock, Heaross literally punched straight through it, forming a clear tunnel through it. Bursting out of the other side, an eruption of rocks and dust going around, Heaross watched long enough to make sure none of the rocks obstructed the path or hit Celestia. Making sure that he didn't just break any rules, Heaross rushed on after the alicorn.

Catching up, the Guardian and the Princess saw the finish line. Chancing a glance at each other, they both grinned and poured every single ounce of speed they had left. The pair were neck and neck, kicking up dust as they ran, wearing some of the biggest smiles anypony had ever seen. With a shout, they burst from the forest and past the finish line. Still wearing the same goofy grins, Heaross and Celestia looked up to Twilight who had been watching the entire time. With a shout of amazement, Twilight said, "It's a Tie! Guardian Heaross and Princess Celestia crossed the finish line at exactly the same time!"

Heaross had an incredulous look on his face at the happenstance, glancing at Celestia who wore the same expression. Settling for a competitive smile, Heaross raised a fist to Celestia, who bumped it with her hoof. "I have to say, you're pretty fast without the magic or wings."

"You too, Heaross. Makes me wonder what the result would be if did this without the restrictions." Celestia wore a warm grin, obviously bating Heaross.

Not taking the bait, Heaross answered, "We'll simply have to find out some other time." Popping his neck, Heaross said, "This was fun. We should compete more often."

"That we should. Maybe we should setup an event dedicated to those who want to challenge the Princesses in some form."

"It would provide a more direct interaction with your subjects, at least, those brave enough to attempt challenging their ruler." Heaross grinned at the idea, thinking of the possibilities.

Turning their attention back to the finish line, they saw a few stragglers from the giant pack of ponies make their way across the finish line. As the last pony finally made it across, Twilight called out from above, "With number 86 across the line, I can officially say this Running of the Leaves is over! Thank you everypony who turned up to race and help stomp the leaves off of the trees." Turning towards Heaross and Celestia, currently taking a break and sitting on the ground, Twilight announced, "Our winners of this year are Guardian Heaross and Princess Celestia, who tied! Please, everypony give them a round of applause!"

Taking that as his cue, Heaross stood up and took a bow to the ensemble of racers. Celestia followed suit, to the roar and the stomping of the crowd. Rising, the human and alicorn shook hand and hoof, promising no ill will. Whispering, Heaross said to Celestia, "Come by my house at 11, I have something I want to share. Bring Luna, I'll bring Twilight."

"I will." Ending the extended shake, Heaross and Celestia turned back to the crowd of ponies before them and waved. As he looked out over the crowd of ponies, the warrior noticed Applejack and Rainbow Dash in the back, making out. He smiled, letting them have their moment. They did tie for third, after all.

Several hours later, Heaross and Twilight were relaxing in his house when some unknown pony decided to knock at the door. Opening it, they found Celestia and Luna standing at the door, wearing curious smiles. The friends greeted each other warmly, taking seats around the living room. "Okay, now for that surprise I promised!" Heaross excitedly exclaimed. Opening a portal, he stepped in only to return caring a wooden cask containing some sort of sloshing liquid. Embellished on the front of the wooden barrel were the words "Guardian's Finest" in big, fancy lettering.

"The Guardian's Finest?" Luna questioned.

"Yes," Heaross proudly stated, "This is the Guardian's Finest. I promise you, there is no better tasting ale, beer, wine, whatever you name, this is better."

"Not even Apple Family Zap Apple Cider?" Twilight asked.

"I was able to get a taste of that by paying an enormous amount of money." The Guardian admitted. "I promise you, this is better." He repeated. He then slammed a spout into the bottom of the barrel, managing to not spray all over his living room. He pulled out four large mugs from atop a few shelves, filled them up and passed them around. "Anybody have a toast they want to say?"

"To friends, to family, and to a damn good drink!" Luna shouted. She thrust her mug into the air, meeting with the others in a loud smack. Pulling back, all four drained their mugs at different rates, Heaross finishing first followed by Luna, then Celestia, and finally Twilight. There was a moment of silence before something went *FWUMP*.

Looking, Heaross saw it was Twilight, passed out onto the floor. "I may have neglected to say that it's also very probably the strongest alcoholic drink you'll ever taste." The lavender alicorn immediately came to with a loud gasp before swooning back onto the floor, clutching her head. She moaned in pain for a bit, sitting up with her eyes closed. A moment after that and she was looking fine, aside the disheveled mane. Looking to the other alicorns in the room, he asked, "Did she just go through the entire process of a hangover in less than a minute?"

Celestia answered with, "Alicorns have extremely increased metabolism."


Filling up the mugs again, he passed them out and advised everyone to drink it a bit slower. Camaraderie thick in the air, the group of four enjoyed both the ale and the stories told many hours into the night. "So, as I was saying-" Heaross said, only to be interrupted again by Luna's laughter. He let her calm down enough so he could ask, "What is so funny?" Not minding the way how his shoulder plate somehow got on Twilight, Luna's regalia being backwards, and Celestia somehow sitting on the ceiling. Despite all of that, not a single drop was spilled on the floor.

"L-look above you!" Luna managed to get out before erupting into more laughter.

Completely shitfaced, Heaross looked up only to find a sign saying "this guy fucked an alicorn" emblazoned above his head, glowing a bright purple light. It took all of five seconds for him to realize what was so funny and proceeded to crack up laughing himself. Five minutes after that, he took the sign and sat on it to prevent the alicorns from dying of laughter again. "Okay, as I was saying," he said, glaring at Twilight, who tried to wear an innocent expression which was failing due to the rosy blush on her cheeks, "I have a story about Artix. The paladin asshole who is my best friend. So, this guy, hates necromancy, hates undead, hates practically anything related to it. So, I come up to him one day and say 'Artix, I'm sorry but you need to know. I'm secretly a vampire.' So what does he do? He says right back to me 'Yeah, and I'm a werewolf.' At the time, I wasn't a vampire, I finished that spy mission ages ago. I had, however, procured a set of fake fangs that looked almost perfectly real. So, I show him the fangs, and he goes completely fucking nuts over it, swinging his battleaxe at me and screeching about evil and crap. I take out the fangs, show him, and he just shuts right up. After a moment, he says, in the most innocent fucking voice I've ever heard, 'Heeeeyyyy, friend.' Robina had been watching this entire thing, and when she finally stopped laughing, she said, with the straightest of faces, 'Run.' He was fucking gone. I have never, ever seen that man run faster in my entire life."

After the laughing had finally stopped, Celestia said, "I have a story about court. Now, you all know how court was before the revision. Occasionally though, since I personally saw to every court case, there were a few ponies who were impossible to not laugh at. One such case was the story of a pony named Windy Breeze. He was Cloudsdale's weather informant, and he had to explain to me exactly why the entire weather factory was shut down. In his exact words, 'Princess, I have never seen a bigger cock in all my life. It was so massive, everyone was drooling at the sight of it. The factory had to be shut down due to massive cock syndrome, your highness.' I had to teleport to my room and stayed there for the next ten minutes laughing, just so I didn't appear overly rude. When I finally was able to return to court, Windy Breeze was so confused as to why everypony else was laughing. That pony deserved a bucking medal."

More laughs were shared around, as well as a couple blushes, as Twilight stepped up to tell her story. "So, Shining Armor and I got into a fair amount of trouble when we were younger. One of the funniest instances was when he was training for the guard and had taken me for a tour around the guard barracks. When I saw all of the weapons inside, I immediately started rattling off different facts about the weapons, including their origins. Since I was about 13, I had very little experience with sex and that was limited to what I knew from books. As such, many sex jokes and innuendos went right over my head. I started to list the origins of the mourning star, which included it being used as some couples 'pleasure object.' Since I had no idea what that meant, I asked Shining Armor. You all can pretty much infer where that went. Soon after, he and I had to be escorted out by his commanding officer and I still didn't know what I did wrong. So I ask the commanding officer, and he goes, no joke, 'We have weapons, not dildos.'"

It was Luna's turn to tell a story, but when the others looked, she had passed out on the floor with her mug sitting on chest fluff. Taking that as her funny story, Heaross, Celestia, and Twilight let her sleep.

A/N: Remember that dark tag? Here it comes knocking. Fair warning, things get pretty heavy here.

Heaross found himself in the Dream Realm again. He had no idea as to why, but judging by the lack of Luna roaming the halls, he could guess why. Deciding to find the alicorn's dream, he set off, finding the door soon after. Generally, Heaross would be more careful about entering someone's mind, since you can hurt them inside of it. He decided to do away with caution, because the screams inside sound like he just used the Terror set on someone.

Bursting inside, he found Luna, as a foal, cowering under a large facsimile of Nightmare Moon. Neither did much, aside from Luna screaming and crying in the corner where she was trapped. Nightmare Moon just stared at her with an evil grin on her muzzle. Acting quickly, Heaross cut through the illusion of Nightmare Moon, dispelling whatever night terrors Luna had been experiencing. He picked up the foal, cradling and scratching her ears and sitting in the corner. Slowly, she quieted, until all that was left was some hiccuping.

"H-Heaross, why are you here?" She quietly asked. Her voice was still her own, slightly unsettling the warrior.

"Because I don't care to see my friends hurt or scared."


"No, no buts." He cut her off. "It doesn't matter what happened in the past, as long as you are trying harder for the future. Yes, you may have made some mistakes, but the blame doesn't fall entirely on your shoulders."

"How can you say that, when you've seen what I did?"

"Because that Tantabus," He softly said, slightly surprising Luna, "Is of your own making. A way to remind yourself of your mistakes, hmm?"

"Yes, it is. I made such a grievous mistake all those years ago, and I won't allow myself to do it again." Her tears slowly started falling again.

"By using a Tantabus?" When she nodded, he said, "Luna, I have made mistakes worse than what you did. Your sister forgives you. Twilight, Applejack, Rarity, all of them forgive you. So why can't you forgive yourself?"

The mare of the moon remained silent, tears dripping from her muzzle.

"It's the guilt, isn't it?" She nodded, still silent. "Let me tell you a story about someone who almost let guilt ruin them." The foal looked up at him, paying attention. "He was a fine man, who had practically anything he could want. One day though, he found something that could save his little brother and his family from an accident that could kill them." Heaross started to tear up, eyes dripping. "It was a simple spell, not too hard to do. Something messed up however, causing the end of his entire family. It was a miracle that he survived, let alone unscathed. His family however, was gone. Forever. The guilt of the situation destroyed him, leaving him barely eating or moving. If it wasn't for his close friends and need for redemption, he would have wasted away, leaving a husk of a man and a forgotten family name." The Guardian was almost sobbing now, biting his lip to stop from openly crying.

"Heaross..." Luna breathed out.

After taking a few deep breaths, he shakily responded, "Don't pity me. I don't want or need it. I've moved on since then, and I'll eventually find some way to bring them back."

"But you haven't forgiven yourself either, have you?" Luna asked.

After a few more shaky breaths, Heaross stably answered, "No, I haven't. How do you forgive yourself for killing your own family?"

Luna leapt from his lap and transformed into her normal state from the foal form she had while Heaross stood up. Turning, Luna managed to balance on her hind legs long enough to wrap her forelegs around his neck and shoulders in a hug. Heaross easily accepted it, breathing heavily. They remained so for a fair few minutes, comforting each other in their misery of the past. Eventually they separated, wiping away tears. "Wanna go mess with Celestia and Twilight?" Luna asked.


Hearth's Warming Preparations

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Twilight was walking around town, planning her Hearth's Warming presents for everyone. She had Spike's gift already, but she couldn't quite settle on what the others would want. So, the alicorn was wandering around the market, exploring around for ideas. Unbeknownst to her, a dark grey stallion with a light gray mane and brown eyes was standing at a distance, simply paying attention to what she was looking at. He followed her around, taking note of each item her eyes wandered to. Eventually, once he had a sizable list of things, he turned around and headed deeper into Ponyville, seemingly unaffected by the snow littering the ground.

Twilight felt a strange sort of sixth sense leaving her, as if somepony just stopped spying on her. Shuddering, she brushed off the sensation, focusing more on what Applejack would be interested in. Maybe a new wagon? The farm mare would want something practical. Heaross would probably get something like that for her, she had to think a bit out of the box. Looking around some more, Twilight found the perfect gift. She bought the item, placed it in her saddlebag, and continued on. What would Fluttershy want...

Heaross arrived at his house, shaking off the snow. Smiling, he set down the list of items he was now going to get and heated up a cup of chocolate. Taking a sip, he shuddered at the warm feeling in his chest and continued on through his house, making a small list on a sheet of paper titled "Twilight's Gifts". He took a look on his desk, noting the sheet saying "Frostval Preparations".

Rarity was currently working on a new batch or orders for latest Winter line when a knock came from the front door of the store, Carousel Boutique. "The door is open!" She shouted out from her workroom. Finishing up the last part of the stitch she was working on, the fashionista walked out of her workroom to see a very large earth pony stallion adorned with a thin business suit standing in front of a ponyequin, admiring the dress upon it. "Welcome to Carousel Boutique, where everything is chic, unique, and magnifique!" Rarity greeted as her normal welcoming to any customer. "I haven't seen you around Ponyville before sir, might you be from Canterlot?" She asked.

"No, the Canterlot 'nobles' would not quite take kindly to me being there. Their own sense of horrid pride would prevent them from being reasonable ponies." He said the word 'nobles' with no small amount of disgust, as if he were talking about vermin. "I am from a land quite far from here." He explained, turning to face the shop owner. "You must be Rarity, I presume?"

"Yes I am. Might you have a request or need a suit for a formal event?"

"Well, I am in need of a suit. I do wish it to be tailored rather specifically though."

Rarity smiled, having had many specific requests before. "Anything you need made, I can do."

The stallion smiled before saying, "I certainly hope you do. I am in need a full body suit, minus hooves. I would like the suit to be entirely red, with a pure white fur lining around the edges, puffing out from the inside of the suit. I would prefer the top to be in a jacket style while the bottom to be in a simple pants design. If you wish to include some design on the suit, please limit it to being snowflakes." He pulled out a small sheet of paper with a sketch of the suit on it, to which he handed the sketch to Rarity. "I will be the first to admit that I am a poor artist, yet I hope this does provide some frame of reference."

Rarity studied the design for a moment before returning, "Your drawing isn't the worst that I have seen, by a far long shot." She set the sheet of paper on a small table before saying, "I can have this done within a week, should nothing else come to be more important."

"I only ask that it be done before Hearth's Warming."

Smiling, Heaross added to the list of things he needed for Frostval, including a sleigh, a very large tree, and several decorating ornaments. He took another sip of his hot chocolate, enjoying the warm drink. Yawning, the Guardian set down his pen and leaned back in his chair, enjoying the sound of the crackling fire coming from the living room. Getting a small idea, he gathered up his papers and pen, along with his chocolate, and made his way to the living room to continue working in front of the fireplace. Getting an idea, he wrote it down and continued brainstorming.

Pinkie Pie was currently working the cash register, happily serving folks who came for both sugary treats and the ornaments they put out for sale during the holiday season. Moving to the kitchen for a moment, the mare pulled out a tray of muffins, freshly baked, humming a tune all the while. Setting the tray onto the counter to cool, she heard the front desk bell ringing, to which she bounced out towards to the front. The source of the sound happened to be a very large dark grey stallion with a light grey mane and warm brown eyes. He wore only a single layer of clothing, barely putting up a resistance to the sheer cold of outside.

Arranged in front of the stallion were several bags of ornaments and wrapping paper, coming close to being an entire third of Sugarcube Corner's stock. "Whoa." Was all she managed to say before starting to ring up the prices of all the supplies. "Would you like anything else, sir?" She bubbly asked, dispelling the confusion and disbelief at the massive amount of supplies in front of her.

"May I purchase a cup of hot chocolate?"

Heaross continued his work in relative silence, happy to be doing something aside from wandering Ponyville and spending his time adjusting to Equestria. The warrior always enjoyed Frostval, since it gave him something more to do with his treasure trove of money. Speaking of, he brainstormed an idea of a couple presents. While only a couple would be good for the pony in question, a few would make excellent gifts for some of the other ponies. What would Celestia and Luna want, anyways?

Rainbow Dash was currently fulfilling her duty as weather manager, busting the clouds hanging around Ponyville's skies. As she quickly finished, almost setting a new record, she heard somepony calling her name from down below. Taking a glance, she saw a rather large earth pony calling up to her, bearing a warm smile. Dashing down, the rainbow maned mare quickly said, "Hey, you called me?"

"Yes I have, Rainbow Dash." The stallion's deep baritone almost beat Big Mac or Flutterguy for the deepest voice in Ponyville. "After acquiring the correct permits," He said, pulling out an envelope, "I have made an official request that on the day of Hearth's Warming, there are to be three inches of snow covering the ground around the town square. I have no preferences for the rest of Ponyville, but I simply ask that the square have only three inches covering it." He handed the letter to her, allowing her to verify the request.

"Whoa, dude, this comes straight from Cloudsdale. Did you really go all the way over there just to make a request?"

The stallion showed a hint of pride in saying, "It was truly no trouble to make the distance. A sizable enough amount of bits can earn one practically anything they desire."

"Well," Rainbow cautiously replied, "We did have snow already planned for Hearth's Warming. It shouldn't be too much trouble to arrange the clouds like that, but we'll need some time to get them in that specific order. We can fill this, definitely, but don't expect it to be perfect."

"That's all I ask."

Heaross set down the paper, massaging his hand. He had been writing for close to an hour now, and it was starting to cramp up. An almost complete list, just missing a few random ponies. Among those few still happened to be Celestia and Luna, since he was having some trouble figuring out a gift for them. The Sun Princess and the Moon Princess. What do you get for someone who is truly immortal? It would have to be something either immaterial or able to last much longer than any normal gift. Something that could withstand the ravages of time or be very easy to fix... Wait, I have an idea! I am so glad I got Warlic to teach me that recipe! Fervent with an idea, Heaross wrote down the gift on the sheet of paper.

Applejack, currently warming up inside of the farmhouse from working on the farm, was enjoying a warm mug of apple cider. Apple Family Cider, that is. After taking a sip of the piping hot beverage, a knocking came from the door astride her sitting on the couch. Sighing, she set down the mug and walked over to the door, wondering who would be out and about in this weather. Apparently, it was a large stallion, bigger than Big Mac, wearing a thin business suit. Snowflakes fell on the suit, heavily contrasting the dark cloth.

"Howdy, stranger!" AJ warmly greeted. "What reason might you be hanging around these parts? Especially in this weather?"

"Ah, dear Applejack," The stallion returned, surprising her with the deep resonance of his voice, "I have a business offer for you and your family."

"A business offer? For the last time, we ain't selling the farm!" The farm mare almost slammed the door in his face when she heard him laughing.

"My fellow earth pony, you and I both know that the Apple family roots have settled her very strongly. To remove you and your kin from this place would be as if to uproot the earth itself. Simply impossible. No, my offer is one that you won't have to pay one bit for."

"Now hold up, partner. I've gotten a good few offers in my time, but never have I heard one of you say that we won't have to pay."

The stallion grinned, showing off a set of straight, clean teeth. "On Hearth's Warming Day, set up a stall in the town center. Make sure to bring several hot beverages and confections, as a very large gathering will be present. Almost every pony in Ponyville, if my estimations are correct."

While AJ did some mental calculations, she had to wonder, how did this stallion know about the future gathering? She asked him this question, to which he simply laughed and answered, "You wouldn't believe me."

Heaross had to think for a moment on what to get Fluttershy. The timid mare was much like him, generally wishing only for others. Quite selfless, yet what would she enjoy as a Frostval present? Maybe some kind of automated feeder? Or perhaps something to help relieve the stress of her daily life... While he doubted that she would be ungrateful no matter what he got her, Heaross wanted whatever it was to have some meaning or practical use. Sentimentality is nice, but Fluttershy would likely appreciate something of a more useful nature. He drew on his Master Beastmaster training to get some idea of what she would likely want. A pooper scooper, while nice, would be overall pointless. As he continued his thought process, he suddenly had a fantastic idea for the mare. While he continued his list, Heaross finished his mug of hot chocolate.

Celestia and Luna, in a taste of rare fashion, were serving Day Court together. While Heaross' suggestions had helped them find more time and bond together after the thousand year absence, they did get bored when things somehow managed to become even more predictable. As they finished with a few of the late comers, those who simply didn't make it with the group that represented their claims, the alicorn duo took a sigh of relief and bid the guards out of the throne room. Just when they were about to rise and stretch while conversing the events, a guard called out from the doors, "Your highnesses, a stallion here requests to see both of you in a private audience."

"A private audience?" Celestia questioned aloud, with a glance to her sister. "Very few have requested those over the years."

"Send him in." Luna commanded, curious.

The guard did so, letting a very large stallion with a dark grey coat and light grey mane, matched with warm brown eyes and a very formal business suit through. While he spared a token thanks to the guard, the stallion did not bow to either princesses, instead opting to greet them warmly as a friend. "Ah, Celestia, Luna, it has been a fair couple months since we have last seen each other. You may not recognize me, but that is for a reason. I promise to both of you, on my honor, I come here bearing no ill will or foolhardy attack."

Both Princesses visibly relaxed upon hearing the promise, though Luna asked him, "I do not recall us ever meeting, noble stallion. I think I would remember if thou had ever met us."

"That, Luna, is for a very good reason. Even the best of friends require secrecy at some point, and here is mine. But let's not dwell upon my true identity." The stallion exclaimed. "I instead come here bearing tidings of a gathering in Ponyville. Upon Hearth's Warming day, the near entire population of Ponyville will be meeting in town center for a new event. If you would have the time, can you both make an appearance that day?"

"We have already made plans to appear in Ponyville for Hearth's Warming." Celestia answered. "If what you say is true, we will likely be in the area at the time of the event."

"Ah, my apologies, then." The stallion said. "I had no knowledge that both of you would already be there. Well, still, if you are able to come, that would make for a fantastic arrangement of events."

"We shall make an appearance there, friend." Celestia promised.

As the stallion turned to leave the chamber, Luna called out from behind him, "Wait, fair stallion, we never learned of at least a name."

Turning, he regarded the Princess of the Moon with a cheeky grin, before answering, "Just call me Awethur."

Not-so-Merry Frostval

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A/N: This chapter really stretches the dark tag here to its limits. If there are any more heavy mentions of blood I may have to tag gore in it. Here's your warning, folks! Gore, depression, heavy abuse, alcohol use, and barely controlled rage!

Heaross placed the red ornament on the tree, finally finishing with the decorating. Frost might disagree, but working in the middle of the night on a tree that is literally three times as tall as you are is not easy. It's cold, dark, and he's tired. Though, that last part may be because he woke up at four in the morning. In any case, it was now 5:30 and he needed to go make sure everything was in order. The Guardian had already took the time to set notes in everypony's house about the event, bundled the sleigh up with the presents, and gotten Frost's reigns all set up. All that should be left is to place the suit on, get the reigns situated around Frost, and wait until 10.

Casting a small spell to fix the steps in the snow he caused, Heaross flew off into the night.

Fluttershy woke up that morning feeling particularly energetic. Even more so than normal, considering she was quite the morning pony. Heading to the bathroom, the shy mare did her normal morning routine, ending with a warm stew for breakfast. As she prepared to go outside to tend to the animals, she noticed a small note peeking out from under her front door. She picked up the small parchment, noting the handwritten style.

Happy Hearth's Warming, Fluttershy! I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and sincerely wish you the best. If you have the time, could you perchance come to town square around 10 'o clock? I have a surprise waiting for everypony, and that includes you! But please, don't see this as mandatory of any kind. I understand if you choose to stay and spend time with your family of animals, I can even bring your gift to you.

Wishing you a Happy Hearth's Warming, Santa

Santa? Fluttershy hadn't heard of him before, yet he seemed to know a bit about her, enough to even get her a gift. Normally, she would be rather wary and timid about that, but between the handwritten letter, the promise of gifts to everypony in town, and not even being forced to come there, Fluttershy felt that she could trust him.

"Angel Bunny," She called out to the rabbit sitting in the small bed near the fireplace, "Could you handle feeding the others today, please? I'll be back in a few hours!" The lagomorph sighed before nodding yes to her. "Oh thank you! I'll make sure to get you a treat when I get back!" She picked him up, briefly hugging Angel before softly setting him back in the bed. "Love you!" She called out.

Dressing warmly, Fluttershy exited her house, making her way to Ponyville.

After the short 15 minute walk to Ponyville, Fluttershy noticed the fifteen foot tall tree in town center, decorated with glowing lights, bright ornaments, many festival oddities, and the bright star placed atop the tree. A pine tree, she noticed, with some of its needles scattered across the snow. Looking around, the bundled mare noticed some colts and fillies playing in the snow, throwing snowballs and chasing each other. Across the circular field was Applejack, currently setting up a stall with steaming pastries and drinks. Carrying a conversation right above her was Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy's oldest friend.

The animal caretaker was happy for the couple, remembering the many nights Dash had came to her, talking about AJ and never stopping for the entire night. She was like the sister she never had in a sense. While Heaross' method of getting them together was... Less than ordinary, to put it lightly, it did give them the push they needed.

Trotting up the pair, Rainbow Dash noticed Fluttershy, meeting her halfway with a, "Hey Shy!"

"Hello Rainbow." She warmly greeted in exchange.

"Hey, did you get a note from this 'Santa' pony, too?" Dash asked, getting to the point quickly.

"Yes I did. What present do you think he got you?"

"I don't know. Maybe it's the new Daring Do novel!" The daring pegasus guessed, excited.

The pair made their way quickly to Applejack and her stand, who greeted Fluttershy warmly. "Howdy, Shy. What brings you here as well?"

"Oh, she got one of those notes too, AJ." Rainbow spoke up for her friend.

"Really?" AJ said, a bit bemused. "I got one, too. I was already planning on coming over here, but this brought everypony else. Big Mac's over at Sugarcube Corner with Granny." The farm mare looked fondly over to Apple Bloom, playing with Sweetie Belle and Spike. "Rarity and Twilight came not too long before you did, they're also in Sugarcube Corner right now with Pinkie."

Fluttershy looked kindly over the fillies and drake before noticing the missing cog. "Where's Scootaloo?"

"I'm not sure." Rainbow Dash replied. "I haven't seen her today. I just kinda assumed she went out of town or something."

Fluttershy hummed in response, deigning to not worry about the matter. Besides, Santa would deliver her present anyways.

Twilight Sparkle, currently sipping a warm apple cider, was currently chatting with Rarity and Pinkie Pie. They had all received a note from this mysterious 'Santa' figure, with mixed responses coming from each of them. Twilight was interested in meeting Santa, Rarity found the mystery between him intriguing, and Pinkie had already made a cake to welcome whoever Santa was.

Rarity noticed something out of the window, just beyond Twilight. She turned to look at whatever had caught her friend's attention, but was unable to spot what it was. The lavender mare turned back to Rarity, almost startled that she was staring straight at her. They sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment before Twilight finally asked, "Is there something on my muzzle?"

"No, darling, just wondering about something." The fashionista laid her head in her hooves, still staring at Twilight.

"What are you wondering about?"

"Just if you would happen to know where Heaross is. I haven't seem him all morning and I doubt he's one to miss something exciting like this." Rarity stared at Twilight, almost accusingly.

"No, I haven't seen him at all today either. I expected him to be here, but he's not."

"But you two have been very close as of recently, correct? Even more so than normal, I would say."

Twilight looked at Rarity incredulously before responding, "Rarity, we may have been inside each other, but we don't live in each other. I don't know exactly what he does every second of every day."

Rarity blushed heavily upon the statement, fanning herself and looking away. Meanwhile, Pinkie Pie turned to Twilight Sparkle with the question, "Can we get details?"

Heaross worked over his checklist one final time before departing for town center. The presents were ready, Frost was waiting on him at this point, everything had been checked over multiple times, ensuring their durability, and it was almost 10. So why couldn't he shake the feeling that something very bad was happening?

Scootaloo sat, huddled in a corner of her room, cradling her broken wing and broken foreleg. She could still hear his grunts and smashing downstairs, obviously looking for more alcohol, or whatever drink he wanted at the moment. The small filly shuddered in fear, tears dripping down her muzzle as she idly wondered whether the fall from her window would kill her. It might, her room was set on the second floor after all. It might work too, if it wasn't for the fact that he had bolted all of the windows shut, permanently sealing them.

As the filly looked around her room, she noted the many broken items littered about, including a photo case, a project frame, and even her scooter, the one that Rainbow Dash had gifted her a few years ago. She also noticed some blood stains scattered around around the small room, some from long before this one incident. Scootaloo shuddered again, cold and tired, unable to sleep with the pain emanating from her wing and hoof.

Santa saddled up Frost, making sure the straps were tight before climbing on the large sleigh and ensuring a solid grip. With a shout and a roar, Frost ran and took off to the air, flapping her giant wings as she angled towards Ponyville. Within a few minutes, they came into sight of town center, set with both the snow and the tree that had been setup for the occasion. Giving a signal to her, Frost let loose a mighty roar, intending to gather the attention of the town.

Even from the high altitude, Santa could easily see the many dots and bright figures peeking from the white background, moving around and causing a strange sort of painting-esque view. Giving another signal, Frost dived towards the town, roaring again and aiming towards the center, just in front of the tree. With nary a hitch in plan, Frost and Santa set down in Ponyville center, sleigh saddled with the many ponies' presents. As the crowd gathered around them, Santa took the time to unsaddle Frost, letting her shake the reigns off and move around.

He waited for a time, checking the massive sack on the back of the sleigh containing the presents and coal needed for the event. Fortunately, nothing blew out of the bag on the way, letting the suited pony breath a sigh of relief. Checking back on the crowd, he saw that it contained most, in not all the ponies in Ponyville. Giving a smile, he let loose a loud, "Ho, ho, ho! Happy Hearth's Warming everypony!"

The crowd cheered, realizing who it was. Several shouts of "Santa, Santa!" Were heard, echoing through the town. Santa basked for a moment, letting the applause wash over him before raising a hoof to silence the crowd. After a few seconds, the crowd was just as quiet as a few minutes ago, leaving a warm silence to settle. The red jacketed pony looked over the crowd before releasing the laugh again. "Ho, ho, ho! Yes, my name is Santa, please, I'm just another pony looking to do a nice thing. Now," He said, sweeping over the crowd, "You all remember the little letters I wrote each of you, right?" In response, several ponies in the crowd, mostly fillies and colts, lifted up a small white card. "Good, good. Now then, you all know how in the letter, I said that I had han-hoof picked a gift for each and every one of you, right?" Santa had stumbled his speech a bit, almost saying the wrong word.

The crowd seemingly didn't notice the hiccup, cheering excessively at the mention of presents. "Ho, ho, ho, it seems you all do. But, can any of you tell me the real meaning of Hearth's Warming?" He looked over the crowd, particularly the young ones scattered about. "You there," He said, point to a small red and pink filly, "Can you tell me the spirit of Hearth's Warming?"

"Umm... It's about presents?" The filly guessed.

"I can see why you'd say that," Santa said, "But no, presents, while great, aren't the true meaning of Hearth's Warming. You there, with the white beanie," He pointed to a pinto patterned colt, bundled in some layers of warmth and his parents, "Can you tell me what it is?"

Pipsqueak, Santa remembered, answered, "It's about spending time with family?"

"Ho, ho, ho!" The belly laugh washed over the crowd, making a few smile. "Yes, Pipsqueak, that is exactly right! Hearth's Warming is about spending time with family and friends, enjoying the season. But, that is only part of it. Can you tell me what the other part is, Pipsqueak?" The colt looked unsure for a moment before Santa gave him a hint. "If you're having trouble figuring it out, look at the card I gave you."

He did, staring at it for a moment before gasping and shouting, "It's about giving gifts!"

"Yes, Pipsqueak! Perfect!" Santa praised the small colt, before saying, "As you were able to get the answer right, would you like to receive your gift now?"

The pinto pony looked to his parents for a moment before rushing onto the sleigh, letting Santa pull him up onto it. The large stallion moved things around in his bag for a moment before emerging with a wrapped box, smaller even than Pipsqueak. Santa handed the colt the box, saying, "You can open it now or you can go home and open it with your family. Which do you want to do?" He smiled towards the young pony.

Pipsqueak looked at the box for a moment before smiling up at Santa and ripping it open. Inside, the colt found a small, gold, heart shaped necklace. He looked at it in confusion for a moment before looking up at Santa. "Why is it a necklace?" The small pony asked.

"Ho, ho, ho, it's not just a necklace, Pipsqueak." Santa pushed on something along the side, revealing that the necklace could open up to a pair of empty windows. The metal felt warm to the touch and comforting, despite the cold temperature. "It's a locket."

"What is that, Santa?"

"A locket is a specially made necklace, one that can open up and can hold small items or photos. Most folk store a picture or two of their family." The red jacketed stallion then started pointing at the metal itself, saying, "I also had this made of solid gold. The rarer the metal used in it's construction, the more you can enchant it. I already gave you two enchantments on it, one of which you should be feeling."

"Umm... Is that why it feels warm?"

"Yes it is, Pipsqueak. One of the enchantments warms the metal, ensuring that it will never feel uncomfortable to wear or handle. The other, the much more important enchantment, basically states that as long as you wear this locket, nopony could take it from you, no matter how hard they tried. While you wear it, it is completely inseparable from you."

The colt hung the locket around his neck, letting it bounce against his winter clothes. With a large smile, he wrapped his forehooves as much as he could around Santa, giving him a hug. In response, the older stallion returned the hug, tightly wrapping a leg around Pipsqueak. As the crowd gave it's share of cheering and d'aws, Pipsqueak jumped down from the sleigh and ran back to his parents, eagerly showing them the locket.

As Santa fondly watched the scene, he had to again shake the feeling something was going terribly wrong.

Scootaloo heard a loud crashing, sounding like a shelf had fallen. Accompanied by the sound of grunts and drunken ramblings coming up the stairs, she huddled up closer to the corner, tightly wrapping what wasn't broken of her bones around what was. With a loud bang, the door to her room crashed open, revealing an orange pegasus stallion with several beer stains coating his muzzle and fur. Slowly, he walked over to Scootaloo's scooter, her namesake, and with a glare promising hell, started breaking the item into pieces. After several agonizing minutes of her watching him destroy her most prized possession, a gift from Rainbow Dash, he picked up a few wooden shards of the former scooter and started walking towards the filly. As she stared at him in growing terror, he started muttering incomprehensible things, too quiet for her to hear. As he finally stood over her, his muttering stopped to be replaced with a terrifying declaration, something drilled into her before she could even speak.

"You're the reason my wife is dead. Not even you're own mother could stand to live with you."

Her father reared the wooden stake back and thrust it forward.

As she received her gift, Twilight barely heard in her ear, "The Guardian serves his Princess."

Her breath hitched for a moment before she returned, just as quietly into the stallion's ear, "The Princess guides her Guardian."

'Santa' stepped back, smiling down at Twilight. In a much more normal voice, he said, "Heaross told me to deliver a message to you. Something about 'exploring anatomy' as it were. Surely you understand what he means."

The lavender mare blushed a bit, responding, "I understand it." Shaking her head clear, she looked over the gift, noting its heft. "What's the gift, Santa?"

The stallion chuckled a bit, bemusedly asking, "What about my saying of 'you can open it now or later' did you not understand? Feel free to unwrap it now, Twilight."

Smiling, she did as he said, neatly taking the tape off and carefully unwrapping the package with her magic, taking care to not tear the paper. Soon, she unveiled a rather large book, interestingly titled, The Legend of Awethur. Detailed on the front was an illustration of a large human wearing silver and gold highlighted armor, the Blade of Awe appearing in his hand.

Santa, meanwhile, was checking over a list, crossing out names. As he crossed out a final near the end, he noticed only one name left on it. Scootaloo, who wasn't there the entire day. Shoving his curiosity to the back of his mind, Santa gathered the few items he had brought and prepared to leave. While he noticed the purple glow around his fur jacket, he payed it no mind, easily overpowering the telekinesis magic and walking out of Sugarcube Corner, dragging a struggling Twilight Sparkle behind him, her horn glowing with the same magic.

Santa calmly set his items on the sleigh, signaling to Frost who was now chuckling slightly to start moving forward. The pair moved side by side, Twilight stubbornly holding onto his jacket and being dragged with it. Once they had all moved far enough through Ponyville to not be seen by any stray eyes, both Santa and Frost stopped, abruptly shocking Twilight and causing her to fall forward into the snow and release his jacket. Panting and covered in sweat, Twilight wearily looked up to see the muzzle of a large stallion looking down at her, his dark grey fur contrasting the bright red of his suit.

As she watched, his expression changed from disdain to humor and then to a warm smile. He crouched down, resting upon the fluffy snow and laid his head directly in front of hers, still smiling. She returned his smile, blushing against the cold. Their noses touched, drawing a slight giggle out of both.

As she was too tired from trying to hold him by the jacket, he picked her up like a mother cat and placed her on the sleigh, her head almost hanging over the edge and now eye level with him standing up. With one final smile, they shared a kiss.

"I love you, Twilight." He said.

"I love you, Heaross." She said.

Scootaloo lay, her wing pinned to the ground by the stake driven through it. Blood leaked profusely from the wound, staining the wooden boards under her. The sobs erupting from her came without break, staining her cheeks with tears and her throat with a tired soreness.

Her father had left a few minutes ago, answering a knocking that came at the door. She wasn't able to hear anything from downstairs due to her sobs, which she also secretly hoped would be her saving grace and alert whoever it was that she was there. It did seem as though it worked when the door to her bedroom opened a startled gasp came from it. She also heard wood splintering and cracking under pressure barely a moment after.

Unable to keep herself awake from pain, exhaustion, and blood loss, Scootaloo lost consciousness.

'Santa' sat upon the sleigh with Twilight Sparkle, cuddling her and enjoying the slow ride provided by Frost, the Ice Dragon. They were riding to what they both knew as Scootaloo's place of residence. The pair were enjoying a comfortable silence afforded by the quiet town and ride, though this was dissolved by a gasp from Twilight.

"Heaross, look!" She said, pointing to a very rundown house. The paint upon the entire structure was peeling and even unfinished in certain places, many boards were poking out of the shell, some of the windows had been busted from the inside, and there were many glass bottles strewn about, looking like they all had at one time contained some sort of alcoholic drink.

As the group slowly approached the house, even Frost looked hesitant at coming close to it, Twilight scooting closer to Heaross. With a sigh, Heaross jumped down from the sleigh, announcing, "We're here." He left Twilight and Frost to their pondering, going to knock on the wooden door.

The first impressions the Guardian had were extremely bad. There were many beer and alcohol stains over the stallion's muzzle and chest that had answered the door, many things inside what he had to assume was a very pristine and well cared for house broken and smashed, and there was pained sobs coming from upstairs, echoing through the boards. "Hello," Heaross greeted, straining to keep a smile on his face, "I'm here to deliver a gift to Scootaloo. Can I see her?"

The pegasus stallion only grunted and spat in the other's face before roughly trying to slam the door. Heaross, in turn, held the door open, slowly wiping the spit away from his face. Dropping the fake smile, he pushed into the house, easily resisting the pegasus' weak defence. "My name is Heaross, Grandmaster Warrior of the Guardians. I order you to take me to Scootaloo." Before the stallion could reply, he was cut off by Heaross saying, "And don't think of lying or stalling for time, I can hear her crying upstairs."

Without any more options, the stallion agreed and led the way upstairs. As he reached the door, he turned back to the large earth pony, surprised to see a very tall bipedal figure holding a large golden sword. He slowly stepped away from the door and irate human, attempting to go back downstairs only to find said large golden sword planted right in front of his muzzle.

Heaross opened the door to the bedroom, utterly shocked and flabbergasted by the sight. Laying upon the ground was Scootaloo, trying vainly to pull a wooden stake out of her wing that kept her pinned to the floorboard. One of her front hooves was broken, along with the wing that wasn't stuck. She lay in a pool of her own blood, slowly quieting until she passed out. Stepping back, Heaross noticed that he had accidently pulped a part of the door frame and completely broken his Limiter.

Blood roaring in his ears, the Grandmaster turned to the pegasus who was pinned under the immense pressure that came from breaking the Limiter Spell. He slowly picked up the terrified father and brought him back downstairs while reinstating the Limiter. They approached the door at where Heaross opened the Petverse and called out Storm, the half Energy, half Plasma Dragon. As the yellow beast came through, the air started to taste of ozone, charged with electricity. Wicked cackles came from the dragon, betraying the presence of a less than safe mind.

Heaross held the pegasus up to the dragon, letting him get a large identity of the smell before giving a single command.


Rainbow Dash burst into Ponyville General, soon being led down a hallway marked "Intensive Care" to Scootaloo. All that she had heard was that Scootaloo had been admitted to the hospital before a Sonic Rainboom shattered Sugarcube Corner's windows. Many different scenarios played in her head all the while, lightning fast and each coming to the same conclusion: Is Scootaloo going to die?

When the attendant pointed to a window, having to regain the rainbow maned mare's attention, she saw a devastating sight. There was Scootaloo, wrapped head to hoof in bandages, her wings being held out with metal implants. The filly was unconscious and extremely pale. A few tears made their way down Dash's cheeks while a lavender wing wrapped itself around her withers.

Without any words necessary, the pegasus wrapped hooves around Twilight's barrel and held her close while she bawled her eyes out. Several minutes afterward, during which her other friends arrived and joined in on the group hug, Rainbow felt calm enough to let go. She turned to the armored human sitting in a chair not far away, his head bowed and hands clasped.

She approached him and forcefully asked, "How did this happen?"

Heaross looked up to her, his eyes bloodshot and tired. "Her father."

"What do you mean, her father?"

Heaross sighed, sitting up before answering, "Scootaloo's father did all of this to her. Judging by the many bloodstains I saw in her room, this is far from the first time, only the worst." He spared a glance to the sleeping filly, hoping against all hope she would wake up soon. "Her left wing and front-right hoof are broken, she has bruises in several places dotted all around her body, and there was a large wooden stake driven through her right wing."

All of the mares, shy Twilight, gasped at the wounds. Heaross pressed on painfully, continuing, "The doctor said she's lucky to be alive at all. A moment later and she might have died." Rainbow breathed out a sigh of relief that was sacked back in almost immediately. "She'll need her wings amputated, though."

To Rainbow Dash, this was almost the worst thing that could have happened. Anything else would have been better. "Why?" Was all she managed before more tears made tracks.

"Her left wing's bones have been shattered, almost completely through the entire wing. There is no way it would ever heal properly. Her right wing had a massive hole in it when the stake was removed, bigger than my fist." He raised it for emphasis. "Even if it did heal correctly, the hole would always remain there, and even if her other wing managed a full recovery, it would never support her in the air. It's easier and better as a whole to remove it."

Rainbow Dash turned back to the window that held her surrogate sister, slowly approaching it. Choked sobs erupted from her, causing her head to lower and beat against the glass. Her friend's gathered around her, pulling her into a warm group hug with Dash at the center. Her cries got louder and weaker over time, switching between almost gone and deafening in moments. Even after several moments where Dash seemed to had calmed down, none of the friends in the hug deigned to let go.

A few minutes passed, to which Applejack gathered up Rainbow and carried her over to a chair. She laid the pegasus on it, setting her hat under Dash's head. While a few more tears made their way, she seemed to have fallen asleep. The earth pony placed a kiss on her cheek, wiping away a tear as she did so.

As AJ turned back to the others, she brought the elephant in the room to the forefront. "What do we do now?"

"Now," Came a regal voice, full of both anger and calm, "We pass judgement on who did this." Princess Celestia stepped into the hallway, accompanied by her sister, Princess Luna. Both looked absolutely livid, their manes whipping around furiously.

Heaross stood up, opening the portal to the Petverse and calling out for the second time, "Storm!"

Said dragon exited the hallway carrying an unconscious pegasus stallion, colored the same as Scootaloo and covered in alcohol stains. He spat the pony out of his mouth. "And you people call us monsters." His voice was deep and gruff, almost emanating venom towards the real monster in the room. He turned and entered the portal, leaving the group to their own machinations.

The stallion slowly awoke to a terrifying sight. There sat five mares who looked ready to pulp his head, and aside them stood two alicorns and a human who looked like they could actually pulp his head. The human in particular looked like his restraint was about to break, ready to literally carve the pegasus into so many pieces he could be called a smoothie.

"State your name, age, and relation to the filly beyond this window." Celestia almost barked the order, gathering his attention and directing it towards a particular orange filly who was sitting in many bandages and metal restraints.

His groan of disgust was very thinly veiled, responding, "My name is Wind Soar, I'm 43, and that little freak," He pointed towards Scootaloo, "is unfortunately my daughter, your highness." He finished his sentence with no small amount of disgust or disrespect.

Heaross felt blood roaring in his ears once again and found the wall he had a hand on was now caving in. Extracting it, he questioned Wind Soar, "Why did you break Scootaloo's wing and hoof, and stab a wooden stake through her other wing?"

"Bah," He said, "I don't have to answer you."

The Grandmaster strode forward, placing a hand around the pegasus' neck and very firmly placed him up against a wall. With rage burning in his eyes and blood pounding against his ear drums, "There is a filly who may very well die in that room and you don't care that you did it. By the Elements, if I have to rip your heart out of your ass and shove it down your throat to make you care, I will. You are going to answer our questions without any of that bullshit narcissism and will shut right the fuck up afterwards. Do I make my self clear?" Wind Soar stared back at the orbs of pure rage burning into his skull in silent fear, barely able to breath with the pressure around his windpipe.


The pegasus nodded yes, unable to say anything. Not saying a word more, Heaross released his hold on the stallion, revealing holes planted in the wall where his fingers had been. The Guardian stepped away, breathing heavily. Not saying a word, he went to the wall facing the window which contained Scootaloo and opened a portal. Unlike most other times, the portal stayed open when he went inside yet none of those gathered deigned to venture inside, wary of the wrath of the Guardian.

Twilight slowly entered the portal. Interrogating Wind Soar had been a trying experience, even with her fellow princesses there. What she wished for now was some cuddling time with her Guardian, if he had calmed down enough. As she looked around the pocket dimension, Twilight had to admit this was one she hadn't seen before. Placed around in various locations were weights, mats, different machines that each held some purpose beyond her understanding, and many other random items.

One such random item included a bed, upon which lay her target, Heaross. Not even trying to hide her smirk, the alicorn jumped upon the bed and straddled the man, for once without his armor. While the warrior fidgeted in his sleep, Twilight slowly placed her snout next to his ear and whispered, "The Princess guides her Guardian."

Heaross slowly opened his eyes, blinking at the smirk above him. Returning it, he answered, "The Guardian serves his Princess." Slowly, carefully, he sat up on the bed, noting his armor was off. Twilight backed off of his chest, instead opting to sit on his lap. While he rubbed his eyes, the memories of what had occurred a few hours ago came swimming back to his mind. Sighing, "I'm sorry."

Twilight was taken aback before asking, "For what?"

"For losing my temper in the hall. I shouldn't have done that." An ashamed grimace on his face, he turned away from her, only to be stopped by a hoof turning his face back to her.

"Heaross, what you did was actually helpful. While it may not have helped your reputation, it made getting answers out him much easier. Besides," She placed a small peck on his cheek, "Even if you did lose your temper, you didn't do anything rash. If it had been one of us, we might have actually hurt him very badly."

Heaross sighed again before returning the peck on the cheek. "Thanks, Twilight. I needed to hear that."

"Now," Twilight said, standing up and advancing over Heaross, to the point where he had to lay back down, now face to face with the alicorn, "Once again, the Princess guides her Guardian.

"And the Guardian serves his Princess. We've established this."

The smirk was back. "True, but I don't think you quite understand my meaning. You," She said, pointing at him, "Serve me." She pointed back to herself. She lifted her head high, trying to strike a regal pose. "I want you to service me, Guardian."

Finally getting her point, Heaross sat up a bit, asking, "Are you sure you want me to service your needs Princess? I may be a bit...rough."

"Did I ask for your opinion?" Twilight lowered her head to face her smirk directly in his face.

Heaross in turn smirked back at her, huskily answering, "As you wish, my Princess~..."

"Will you two just hurry up and fuck already?"

Rainbow Dash, wearing Applejack's signature stetson hat, calmly sat on one of the many benches scattered around the pocket dimension, eating what appeared to be jerky out of a plastic bag.

"Is that my beef jerky?" Heaross accusingly asked.

"Found it on a bar in here. I guess so." She picked out another piece and bit into it, wrangling with the tough substance.

Heaross opened and closed his mouth several times before shaking his head and saying, "When you start vomiting later, I'm going to laugh at you."

Rainbow Dash slowly bit into another piece, chewing carefully before swallowing. "What do you mean?" She leveled a glare at the human.

"Dash, that's meat. You're an herbivore."

The rainbow maned pegasus slowly gained a horrified look on her face, almost screaming in silence before shrugging and grabbing another piece of meat. "It's not that bad, really."

Heaross facepalmed, giggling at the stupidity of it. "C-can you p-please explain t-ggnnk-to her why that's a-ggnnk-a horrible thing?" He barely managed to ask of Twilight, who was also giggling at the sheer idiocy of the moment.

"Uhh, guys, my stomach isn't feeling so good right about now." Holding her abdomen, Rainbow tried to get their attention, only succeeding in making them laugh harder. The plastic bag aside her was completely empty, devoured by the pegasus.

After a couple minutes of laughing, Heaross managed to regain enough serious semblance to process the fact that Rainbow Dash would likely need her stomach pumped. Unable to wipe the amused smile off his face, he called his armor on and guided the now positively green mare out of the portal and towards some help, Twilight following.

Late that night, in his own house, Heaross opened the portal to the Petverse. He stepped inside to notice most of his pets currently asleep, normal considering the time of day it was. Carefully maneuvering around the many large creatures, he found who he was looking for, sleeping on the bed he placed in the portal. Sunset Shimmer.

Lightly shaking the flame colored pony awake, Heaross took in what almost five months in the portal had done to her. Her figure, even for an earth pony, would be astounding, she looked like she had stuck to a very rigorous work out routine almost religiously. Visible muscles stretched and contracted like a bodybuilders, evenly built and looking very impressive. Contrasting the muscles were the many spots of filth and grime built up over the months, to the point where her cutie mark was almost completely covered in it. Her mane was matted down and sticking up at the same time, giving a very disheveled look. Her horn, while covered in filth, looked longer and slightly curved, as a result of the many magics she had to perform to keep up with the duties.

Sunset got up, looking at the human for a moment before sighing and jumping out of bed. Trying to clear the sleepiness from her eyes, she asked him, "What is it Heaross? It can't be past 11."

The Guardian almost cringed at the disheveled sight, starting to wonder if his punishment may have been overkill. Wiping the thought away for the moment, he answered, "I just thought you might like to know that it's Hearth's Warming."

With a cynical smile, the pony answered, "Cool. What, did you bring me a present?"

"No. I'm bringing you to your present." Heaross picked up the filthy unicorn, holding her by the nerve in her neck. Walking calmly throughout his house, the Guardian entered his bathroom and placed Sunset in the tub. "Get a bath and clean up. When you're done, go to the kitchen. It's down the hall, past the bedrooms and through the living room." Heaross exited the bathroom, waiting until he heard the tub faucet running.

The fiery haired pony cleaned up, washing away the months of grime and filth that had accumulated. There were a couple scented shampoos and soaps to which Shimmer made eager use of. The unicorn stepped out of the bath tub, feeling truly clean for the first time in months. She looked in a mirror located nearby, marveling at her more rugged and carved figure. While the sentence was far from the nicest thing she had ever done, it did give her the chance to develop some muscles for once. Sunset also noticed her horn had become longer and slightly curved, likely due to the more extensive and grueling use of it. All in all, Sunset Shimmer looked and felt strong.

The unicorn briefly debated trying to run from the house, attempting to escape before realizing what a futile endeavor it would be. She would tire eventually and hadn't been able to practice her teleport spell in quite some time, also compounded with the fact that she had absolutely so idea where she was. If and when Heaross caught her, he would likely kill her on the spot, if not extend her sentence. Better as a whole to listen to him and not incur his anger.

Drying off with a towel placed on a rack, Sunset exited the bathroom, looking for the first time around what she assumed was Heaross' house. From where she stood, there were three other doors, all looking to be made of spruce wood. From what the warrior had said, they all led to bedrooms. Continuing on, she exited the hallway into a living room, where a large couch sat opposite of a fireplace with bookshelves flanking either side. I'll give him props, those drapes very nicely brighten up the room! Looking around a bit more, the unicorn saw a large doorway into what she assumed was the kitchen, evidenced by the table, smell of food, and the fact Heaross was standing there, watching her.

"Took you long enough."

"You try getting four months worth of shit and piss out of your coat. I'm just happy to be clean for once."

Heaross looked away, sighing. Turning back, he motioned for her to follow him into the kitchen. The lights were off and she could smell some sweet confectioneries placed around. As she rounded the corner, several silhouettes seemed to go completely still, Heaross standing very obviously aside them. In a flash, the lights turned on and the silhouettes revealed themselves to be Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie.


Sunset was flabbergasted, to say the least. Twilight alone had more than enough reason to hate her guts, yet here she was, trying to celebrate Hearth's Warming with her. The unicorn couldn't speak, unable to form a coherent thought, her mouth hanging open and on the floor.

"I think we broke her." Heaross said.

Twilight tentatively approached, waving a hoof in front of Sunset's face. The fire unicorn snapped out of her reverie and immediately threw herself at the ground in front of Twilight, shaking and pleading. The alicorn tried to reason with her, but Sunset wasn't paying attention, convinced that Twilight was going to exact some form of revenge. Heaross stepped forward then, picking the shaking unicorn up by the nerve in her neck. He held her there for a minute, letting the situation and Twilight's words wash over her, convincing her that nothing was wrong, this had been planned from the start.

Slowly, Sunset was placed back down on the ground. Instead of shaking and pleading again, she just asked, "Why?"

Twilight looked away for a moment, gathering her courage and honesty. "Sunset, I'm not going to lie. There's a part of me that wants you gone, that doesn't want to be here. But I believe in second chances and that you were simply misguided. I want to be your friend."

"Why do you want to be my friend? I tried to kill you!"

Rarity stepped forward, resting a hoof across Twilight's withers. "Darling, we forgave Discord. Short of you succeeding in actually killing one of us, we would forgive you for anything. Twilight wants to be your friend and she won't stop until she's done it, so don't make it any harder and just accept it."

Sunset tried to come up with more arguments but each of them were refuted or disproved by Twilight and her friends. For several minutes they all sat trying to convince each other until Heaross got irritated and said, "Sunset, if you really need more proof that Twilight wants to be your friend, she's the one who managed to convince all of us to give you a second chance. And I still want your head on a pike after you hurt Frost."

The unicorn went silent for a bit, in guilt or ponderance, Heaross didn't know. Eventually, Sunset looked up and said, "I don't really know what you see in me that makes you want to be my friend. But if you truly believe that being my friend would help, sure."

With a squeal of excitement, Twilight jumped in the air, feeling successful. After a moment of celebrating, she looked around to notice everyone in the room staring at her, their expressions ranging from mild horror to barely contained amusement. Giving an embarrassed smile, the alicorn rubbed a hoof behind her head and gave the mildest, "Yay..."

"Hey look! It's Shylight!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, causing laughter to erupt from all gathered, even the embarrassed Twilight Sparkle. "Alright, everypony, let's get this party started!"

Each of the ponies (and human) went off to do their own thing, ranging from grabbing some confectioneries provided by the pink pony to making light chatter with the others. Heaross talked with Rainbow Dash about training routines and how to improve them when he noticed Sunset sitting on the couch, alone. The warrior effectively ended the conversation when he pointed to Sunset. Rainbow grinned and motioned for him to go talk to her.

"Are you enjoying yourself, Sunset?" Heaross asked.

The fiery pony answered, "Yeah, definitely."

"It doesn't seem like it."

"Can't I be an introvert in peace?" She gave him an almost cynical smile.

"Nope." Heaross took a seat beside her. "Besides, there are a couple things I wanted to tell you."

"Like what?"

"I'm changing a couple of the rules for your sentence."

"Does this mean I'm free to go?"


"Damn." Sunset gave an obviously fake sigh, before asking, "So, what are the changes?"

"First off," Heaross answered, "You won't be living in the Petverse anymore. Instead, whenever you have finished with your duties, you are now allowed to come here into my house to sleep, eat, and bathe." Sunset looked at him incredulously but did not interrupt. "Secondly, since this has changed to be of a more rehabilitation, you will be given some liberties. While here at my house, you are allowed to go outside to do... well, anything you would normally do outside, but you must remain within 100 yards of it. I will know if you step even an inch outside of that limit. Third, if you have behaved and performed your duties correctly, then with my supervision, you are allowed to walk around Ponyville to buy items and explore the town."

Sunset gathered her thoughts about the changes then asked, "Doesn't this seem rather childish?"

"What do you mean?" Heaross asked, curious.

"Like, it feels like I'm being treated more like a child than an adult."

Heaross deadpanned. "You literally tried to kill someone and take a magical artifact. Treating you like a child is better than what you should be getting."

Sunset considered this for a moment, then took a drink of cider. "Fair enough."

Interlude: A Playdate With a Fox

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The shop’s bell rang as a pair of customers came in, regulars and established friends of the established owners. Heaross and Twilight, human and pony, walked into Sugarcube Corner. “What if we tried a ruby instead?” Came the lavender alicorn’s question.

“I’m not quite sure how the red would interact with the green, but it might be a nice touch around the centerpiece, if we wanted some extra decoration.”

“Well, what if we tried a sapphire instead?”

Heaross hummed at the thought for a moment, imagining the look. “I think that might work. Blue and green do go together nicely.”

Sugarcube Corner was currently empty, considering it was Saturday and a few hours after the lunch rush. As such, Carrot Cake was dozing on the counter, a small line of drool poking out of his mouth. The pair that came in snickered at the sight before Heaross slightly nudged him, startling the confectionist awake.

“Hey, hey, I’m awake!” The yellow-orange earth pony shook his head for a few moments, blearily trying to wake up. After wiping the drool from both his mouth and the countertop, he noticed the customers. “Oh! Hello, Twilight, Heaross. What can I get you?”

“A dozen cookies, please.” Twilight smiled at him, more out of amusement than familiarity, but the sentiment was still there.

“Coming right up!” Mr. Cake went into the kitchen, coming back moments later with a plate high of cookies. He set it on the counter, ringing up the price. “That’ll be six bits.”

Heaross pulled out the amount requested, placing them on the counter while grabbing the plate. “Thank you, sir.” He led Twilight over to a small table where they sat and continued their conversation, now with cookies. While they did eat, the Guardian kept hearing something coming from upstairs, most likely Pinkie Pie’s room. It didn’t sound like the party pony, however, it sounded more like a mess was being made.

“You hear that too, right?” Twilight asked after a moment’s silence.

“I do. I can’t say I know Pinkie as well as you do, but I don’t think it’s like her to just start making messes.”

Mr. Cake heard their conversation however, calling out to the pair, “She’s taking care of the twins right now. They might just be giving her a hard time.”

The Guardian hummed, finishing off the cookie he held in his armored hand and wiping it off before standing. “If neither of you mind,” He said to both ponies in the room, “I shall visit her. I don’t think I’ve met Pound or Pumpkin Cake yet.”

“That should be fine, Heaross. Just be gentle with them!” Carrot Cake waved to him while the human walked upstairs, Twilight remaining to finish her cookies.

Heaross wandered up the stairs from the dining room of the confectionery shop. The sounds of a mess being made grew louder until he heard them directly from an open door, light spilling into the darkened hallway. Taking a curious glance, the warrior saw many toys and playthings scattered about, as well as some other, more liquid items splattered across the walls and ceiling.

Running across the room was Pinkie Pie, covered in various substances and chasing the Cake twins. Heaross had to stop and grip the door frame to prevent from falling at the sheer adorableness of the pair. A pegasus, his coat a light golden gray, flying astride his sister, a light yellow colored unicorn, while they both managed to keep ahead of their caretaker for the afternoon. Both were very small and had eyes as large as their hooves, full of innocence and mirth.

Regaining control of both mind and body after the near heart attack from seeing such adorableness, Heaross decided to help the pink pony out. Using some shapeshifting magic, the human transformed into a slightly-larger-than-average red fox. As opposed to most normal red foxes however, his tail was gray before fading into a brown and then into a bright golden color at the tip.

Using his newfound speed, Heaross the Fox ran side-by-side with the foals managing to pull them away from the party pony, who stopped in confusion at the scene. Managing to bring them to a stop, the Guardian bounded around the foals, jumping and skipping around them. He playfully barked and yipped at the two, using his tail to get a surprise tickle attack off on Pumpkin. Using his fox snout, he ran up to Pound and started to sniff all over him, tickling with his nose and the bares of his teeth. The shapeshifter remained cautious of how he was playing with the two, since he was still incredibly strong.

While the trio played, Pinkie took the opportunity to straighten up the room, cleaning away the messes of wet goop, picking up all the toys, and straightening the furniture that had been knocked askew. All the while, the red fox continued to play with the Cake twins, now using his tail as a makeshift lure. He would slowly bring his tail in close to the pair, only to yank it away when either of the duo tried to grab it. The game continued for several minutes, with the foals sometimes managing to actually grab it. Whenever one of them did, he would treat them to small ride around the room on his back, fast enough for excitement but still slow enough that he could catch them if they fell.

Back downstairs, Twilight made some small talk with Mr. Cake, slowly finishing up her last cookie. Returning the plate to the stallion, the lavender alicorn decided to join her friend and boyfriend with the Cake twins. She slowly made her way up the stairs, listening for anything. The most prevalent of sounds was cooing and baby talk, accompanied sometimes by… yips, barking, and high pitched laughter? The sound of a broom being swept did filter through, but that only made things more puzzling.

Reaching the open doorway, Twilight saw a most curious sight. A strange, slightly-larger-than-average fox with a strange gray, brown, and gold tail was giving Pound and Pumpkin a ride along its back. The sight was extraordinarily adorable, but what most confused her was no sign of Heaross with Pinkie over in the corner, sweeping a pile of dust and debris over to a bin. Luckily, her friend noticed her before the fox did, too occupied with giving the foals a ride.

“Hey, Twily!” Pinkie Pie jubilantly announced, pronking over to her. “What are you up to?”

“Hey Pinkie,” Twilight returned with a smile. “I came here with Heaross. We heard you having some trouble with the twins and he came up to help you out. It seems that fox is doing a good job of that, but where is Heaross?”

“Oh, you silly filly! The fox is Heaross!”

Twilight had to stop and ask Pinkie to repeat herself. She did, which only bewildered the pony even more. The alicorn turned to the trio of playmates, now noticing more clearly the fox’s tail. Grey, brown, and gold. Heaross’ colors. When she realized it, she could much more clearly see him playing with the foals. The way he moved, how he kept his entire attention on the two, how he was so gentle, because even as a fox he was still so incredibly strong. Twilight couldn’t help it. Tears sprung up, unbidden to her eyes. She covered her mouth with her hooves, sitting on her back ones so none gathered would hear her start to whimper at the sight.

The fox’s ear turned towards the noise of her whimper, noting the talking earlier but paying it no mind. Now however, he turned towards the source and saw her. Twilight sat, staring directly at him, tears threatening to start leaking from her. Keeping as neutral and safe a face as he could, with the foals still on his back, Heaross slowly walked over to her. His paws were silent against the wooden floor, even until he was directly in front of her. Warm, brown eyes stared directly into hers. Heaross saw the tears much more closely now, moving his fox tail to use the tip to wipe them away. Twilight sat completely still while he did, almost shaking.

The fox tilted his head at her before circling around the pony, nuzzling and rubbing up against her. When he was done, he laid down in a circle around her, foals on his back now asleep from the soft and slow ride. The purple pony couldn’t help but lay down with him, drawing the foals closer and closing her eyes against his soft, fuzzy orange hide. As she did, the only thought that went through her mind was, I love him. I love this strange, strange man so much.

Heaross Reference Sheet

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Heaross, Grandmaster Warrior of the Guardians, Wielder of the Blade of Awe, and Legendary Adventurer.

Height: 6'6
Age: 31
Weight (without armor): 210 lbs
Hair color: Gray (not stress related, its just his natural color)
Eye color: Brown
Race: Human
Max lifting weight: 1689 lbs
Healing Potions: 28 left, Started with 35
Mana Potions: 26 left, Started with 35
Scars: 5
Time served with the Order: 13 years, plans on retiring some time after 20
Extremely Arachnophobic
Experienced Shapeshifter

8 Dragons, Scorch (Fire, Male), Wave (Water, Female), Gust (Wind, Female), Frost (Ice, Female), Tremor (Earth, Male), Storm (Energy, Male), Artix (Light, Male), Darkness (Prime Dragon, Female, only a few months old, colored a navy blue)
Mau of Osiris (Persian battle cat, Light, Female)
Twilight (Raven, Darkness, Male)
Sphinx (Wind, Female)
Flare (Phoenix, Fire, Male)
Trjegul Jr. (Thunder cat, Energy, Male, granted power from Krenos)
Svadilfari (Horse, mount for Armor, Male)
Dekio (Male) and Aytheri (Female);(Nerfkittens, Twins, Ice, incredibly dangerous)

Armor Sets:
Ultra Guardian (Earth, also strong against Fire and Darkness, Heaross' preferred armor for most situations)
Overlord (Fire, strongest magic resistance)
Celtic (Water, Enhances mage abilities, rarely used)
Fujin (Wind, Flight, Air control)
Void (Ice, only armor resistant to Void element)
Asgardian (Energy, Grants astounding speed, Lightning control and redirection)
White Knight (Light, Boasts Yulgar as the creator)
Twilight (Darkness, Flight, Stronger at nighttime)

Extra Armors (Armors used in story, but too situational for common use):
Terror (Darkness, inflicts great fear in onlookers)
Svadilfari's Oath (Energy, mounts Svadilfari to use)
Human Fisher (Water, Allows water breathing, mostly used for pranks)
Headless Horseman (Fire, mount is an illusion, preferred Mogloween (Halloween) costume)
Talados (Energy, Allows Telepathy)

The (possible) end of Guardian of Equestria

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Note: This is literally just the blog post I made a few days ago. If you've already voted, then this does not concern you. I'm simply putting this up because at the time of this update, there are like only 5 votes on the strawpoll.

Guys, I have been talking with Azzy. In his own words to understand my plight, "the train has broken down and either needs to be pushed, or needs new wheels." Guardian of Equestria, while I am happy with the story, has lost my interest. Now, I do have a few answers to why. One, I want to redo earlier chapters as well as start the story from the beginning of MLP instead of at season 4. Two, I want to better plan the story, to try and avoid plotholes and more thoroughly explain the characters and headcanons in it. Three, there are a few more.. let's call them details that I want to add to at least make the story more interesting for both myself to write, and for you guys to read. Now, this does not definitively mean that Guardian of Equestria is ending where it is. I do at the least want to wrap up where we are and make sure that Wind Gust gets his due. Trust me, I want as much as you guys do to see him dead. Afterwards though? I don't want to be stuck for months and all I have to show for it is some small 1k words in an interlude that doesn't even mean anything.

That is why I have now made a strawpoll! If ever there was a time to tell me to hurry the fuck up, now is that time! I have put up three choices for you all to choose from, and they each outline what route I would be taking in the future.

1. "The story should be ended, and redone from the start." What is says on the tin. I will restart GoE from season 1 and continue onwards from there, with Heaross as the main character, and involving himself in the many affairs of the ponies.

2. "The story should be ended, and redone with several new twists to the formula." Again, what is says on the tin. Though this time, I will be adding many new tidbits to enjoy throughout the story, as well as increasing the main cast, not counting ponies. Trust me, if this option gets picked, Heaross won't be the main focus.

3. "The story should continue as is and not be redone." For the last time, what it says on the tin. Fic continues as is, no changes to the story. Personally, I both love and hate this option. Love, as I don't want to see what little progress I've made go to waste, but hate as I just have trouble imagining myself continuing.

So, vote! In one week's time, on 8/3, 10PM CDT, the poll will close and the results will be taken into consideration.

Thanks for reading everyone! Battle On!